Fleet-footed Akani Simbine accomplished what he set out to do in 2018 stepping onto the podium at all major track and field events.
Simbine first established himself as a consistent sub-10 second runner in 2015 and 2016 but battled to win medals on the international stage.
This all changed this year when he raced to the
A change in the programme saw Simbine sacrifice some of his top-end speed.
He still managed to duck below 10 seconds on four occasions this year but he fell short of his goal of clocking a sub-9.90 time.
Simbine, who was named as the UP-Tuks Sportsman-of-the-Year on Friday evening, boasts a season-best 9.93 which is 0.04 slower than his South African record.
Next year the South African record holder will be looking to be crowned as the world’s fastest man at the global championships in Doha.
Simbine’s coach Werner Prinsloo believed his charge would have to take a sizeable chunk off his personal best of 9.89 he posted in 2016 to be a medal contender.
“Akani has proved that he is able to improve his times quite dramatically over a year,” Prinsloo said.
“In 2014 his best time in the 100 metres was 10.02s. A year later it was 9.97s, and at the end of 2016 it was 9.89s which is the current South African record,” Prinsloo said.
Simbine has been chasing Nigerian Olusoji Fasuba’s African 100m record of 9.85 since he dipped below 9.90 in 2016.
Prinsloo said Simbine believed he had the ability to not only shatter the record but join an elite group of sprinters in history that have gone faster than 9.8.
“Akani believes that he is capable of running 9.7s times and if he does, I also believe it is possible,” Prinsloo said.
“I might revert to implementing some of the stuff we did in the past to increase his speed.”
The goal for 2018, Prinsloo said, was to translate his speed into silverware which he did with two major titles behind his name.
“The only goal was for Akani to medal at the major meetings and this was the year he raced the most ever,” Prinslool said.
“He has competed in 22 races over 100 metres. In the past, he might have competed in 12 races. His average time for 2018 is 10.04s which I think considering that our focus was not on speed is not to bad.”