Akani Simbine hopes the consistency he has displayed this season will carry him to the podium at the IAAF World Championships this weekend.
Simbine, who finished fifth in the men’s 100m final at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, went on to secure the Commonwealth and African titles last year.
After clocking a season’s best of 9.93 to win the Diamond League contest in London in July, crossing the line just 0.04 shy his own national record, he was hoping for a breakthrough performance in the Qatari capital.
“I’m really happy with the way we handled the season because it has been a long one and we needed to make sure I was able to get to world champs healthy and ready to perform,” Simbine said on Thursday.
The 26-year-old sprinter is set to turn out in the 100m heats on Friday, along with compatriots Thando Dlodlo and Simon Magakwe, with all three athletes aiming for places in Saturday’s semifinals.
The trio are also set to form the nucleus of the SA 4x100m relay squad next week, backed by 200m stars Clarence Munyai and Anaso Jobodwana as well as hurdles specialist Antonio Alkana, with the team possessing enough quality and depth to give them a real chance of stepping on the podium.
“I want to go through each round by staying as healthy and being as dominant as possible,” Simbine said.
“I want to make sure I get through to the final so I can compete as best I can for a medal, and in the relay I want to help the team so we can also compete for a medal.”
Title holder Luvo Manyonga and African champion Ruswahl Samaai are also scheduled to open their campaigns on day one of the biennial showpiece, lining up in the qualifying round of the men’s long jump on Friday afternoon, while Lindsay Hanekom was set to compete in the first round of the men’s 400m hurdles event.
While the national team were expected to battle at the 10-day spectacle without the likes of Wayde van Niekerk, who had not yet made his comeback from a knee injury, and Caster Semenya, sidelined during ongoing legal battles, Athletics SA president Aleck Skhosana called on the rest of the country’s elite athletes to showcase the squad’s depth by chasing podium places.
“This is the world stage all of them have been working towards, and now it’s down to individuals to shine, spring surprises or live up to expectations,” Skhosana said.