Sim­bine on way back to top form

Sprinter in­sists he can han­dle the pres­sure of be­ing con­sid­ered as a medal hope­ful

CityPress - - Sport - CHARLES BALOYI in Dur­ban sports@city­press.co.za

Fresh from claim­ing a dis­ap­point­ing bronze medal at the African Se­nior Athletics Cham­pi­onships in Dur­ban, South African sprinter Akani Sim­bine is off to a train­ing camp in Italy with Wayde van Niek­erk, and will do a few races over­seas be­fore the Olympic Games in Au­gust.

Sim­bine sus­tained a ham­string in­jury in April and he thought that his Olympic dream was over when he was helped off the track at the SA athletics cham­pi­onships in Stel­len­bosch, Cape Town.

But he has since un­der­gone a one­and-a-half month re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and he is work­ing hard to re­dis­cover his form.

The 22-year-old still man­aged to get much-needed train­ing at a camp with Olympic su­per­star Usain Bolt in Ja­maica, who he will be run­ning against at the Olympics.

Sim­bine’s big­gest chal­lenge now is to make sure that he has fully re­cov­ered in time for the Games in Rio de Janeiro, which start on Au­gust 5.

Although he took part in the Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Athletics Se­nior Cham­pi­onships at the Kings Park Sta­dium in Dur­ban this week, he was far from his best, clock­ing 10.05 sec­onds in the men’s 100m fi­nal.

He came third be­hind Ben Youssef Meïté of Ivory Coast, who came in at 9.95, with Mos­ito Le­hata of Le­sotho set­tling for a sil­ver medal with 10.04.

Sim­bine said: “I’m still get­ting back to my usual run­ning form. I’m get­ting back to be­ing race-fit as I stopped racing for a month and a half be­cause of my in­jury, and get­ting back into com­pe­ti­tion is not easy.

“It’s been re­ally tough man­ag­ing my re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, fly­ing and train­ing.”

Sim­bine said he would rather be fit for the Olympics, where the stakes were much higher.

The ath­lete was still jet-lagged from his flight from Ja­maica when he raced in the 100m heats on Tues­day. The 10 000m

Ca­rina Horn

100m – sil­ver, women’s

Clau­dia He­u­nis

100m hur­dles

Maryke Brits

100m hur­dles – gold, women’s – bronze, women’s

Vic­tor Ha­gan Rus­sell Tucker Ruswahl Sa­maai

jump – gold, dis­cus – sil­ver, dis­cus – gold, long

Luvo Many­onga

jump – gold, men’s – sil­ver, long stage was set for him to claim the African ti­tle on home soil, but he could only man­age a bronze medal.

He said: “It didn’t go as planned, but I’m happy that I’m show­ing a bit of con­sis­tency since my in­jury.

“The Ivo­rian is in peak form and I’m not. I’m just happy with my re­cov­ery, but not with the bronze medal.” 100m – sil­ver, men’s

Caster Se­menya

women’s 1 500m – gold, women’s

Zola Budd

1 500m

Kea­gan Fourie

high jump – gold, – sil­ver, men’s

Fredriech Pre­to­rius

– gold, men’s se­nior de­cathlon, – gold, women’s shot­put hep­tathlon – sil­ver, men’s

Nienka du Toit Ja­cob Rozani

800m

To­gether with his friend Van Niek­erk, Sim­bine is seen as a medal prospect at the Olympics.

He said: “I know what I’m ca­pa­ble of and ev­ery­one knows that, and I will go out there and do what I can to win a medal. I be­lieve in my­self. It’s not just me, there is Wayde, Gift [Tlotliso Leotlela] and Caster [Se­menya] and I’m op­ti­mistic that we can do it.”

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