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Athletics | SA Track & Field

Akani Simbane and Thando Roto © Reg Caldecott

SA sprinters could compete in the final

Friday’s men’s 100 metres final at the South African Championships in Potchefstroom could just be the dream race everybody has been speculating about, with three or more athletes dipping under ten seconds for the first time in the same local race.

If nothing unforeseen happens it will be the first time this season that all four sub-10 athletes – Akani Simbine (9.89s), Thando Roto (9.95s), Henricho Bruintjies (9.97s), Wayde van Niekerk (9.98s) - are going to lay down the gauntlet over 100 metres. There are rumours that Simon Magakwe (9.98s) the first South African to dip under 10 seconds will also be racing. He was banned for two years after he allegedly refused a dope test and only start racing again recently.

Simbine (Tuks) who clocked his 10th sub 10 second race at the Gauteng North Championships in Pretoria is seen as the favourite. He is on record of saying he is confident of dipping under 10 seconds every time he races and has been true to his word so far this season. At the provincial championships he clocked two sub ten second times on the same day, running 9.98s and 9.92s.

The Tuks athlete is a man of few words but he made it clear that he is feeling good and expects to run a fast time. Asked how he felt about racing all of South Africa’s top sprinters he said: “My training has been going really well so I am looking forward to race. I cannot speak for the other athletes I can only speak for myself. When I say I am ready to run a fast time I mean it.

“Hopefully the weather will play along and it won’t be too cold when we race the final and there will be a slight wind from behind when we race.”

Hennie Kriel (Tuks/HPC head coach) predicts that Roto has the ability to cause a surprise. In the 100m final at provincial championships in Pretoria he led for the first 70 metres before Simbine passed him.

“At first I was zoned out and just racing. Then suddenly I realized that I am in the lead. It was like it cannot be that I am leading Akani. The mistake I made was to start to doubt in my own abilities,”explained Roto.

“Fast a very fast time,” was Kriel’s answer when asked what can be expected from Roto in tomorrow’s final.

Henricho Bruintjies (Tuks) is the defending South African 100m champion. However up to now he has not come close to the form that saw him running 9.97s in 2015 in Switzerland. Werner Prinsloo (coach) is not worried.

“Henricho is definitely going to run a sub ten second race I just don’t know when it is going to be. If he comes close to running ten seconds tomorrow I will be happy. Running his second sub ten second race is a psychological barrier Henricho has to overcome. Once he has done so I am confident it will become a regular occurrence.”

The 100 metres is not really Van Niekerk’s speciality. So it would be interesting to see what he does tomorrow. It will be wrong to totally discount him in the final.

Unfortunately Gift Leotlela (Tuks) who set a new South African junior record running 10.12s earlier this season won’t compete in the 100 metres at the national championships as he has slight back injury and therefore decided just race in the 200 metres.


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