New sprint star Akani Simbine has called on Athletics SA (ASA) to try to organise relay teams early enough so they can be ready to compete for medals next year.
The men’s 4x100m team – which Simbine called deadly – was given insufficient time to prepare this year and so was unable to qualify for the Rio Olympics, last month.
At full strength‚ the team would feature Simbine‚ fifth in the 100m final in Brazil‚ 400m Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk‚ 200m world championship bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana and Henricho Bruintjies. Simbine‚ Van Niekerk and Bruintjies have run the 100m faster than 10 seconds, while Jobodwana owns the 19.87sec SA 200m record.
“That’s a deadly team‚ that’s a really fast team‚” Simbine said.
“We have so much potential. We have three guys who have run nine seconds‚ we have one guy who’s done 10.1. That is a medal.
“It’s just a matter of us coming together training‚ making sure we get the stick around and making sure we get time to [prepare] . . .
“I hope the federation and everybody sees that they actually need to think about it starting now‚ not next year – next year is already late.”
ASA started approaching the relay athletes for the Olympics only in May‚ by which time their training schedules had long been decided.
Simbine dipped below 10 seconds on five occasions this year‚ highlighted by his 9.89sec SA record in July.
He went sub-10 twice at the Rio Games‚ where he was the first SA sprinter since 1932 to make the Olympic 100m.
Simbine finished off the season with two Diamond League second places.
The University of Pretoria information science student‚ who has been busy with sponsorship duties since returning home last week, said: “I really haven’t gone back to normal life‚ I’m still living in a bag.
“It’s a blessing being able to run so fast and to get the acknowledgement . . . I feel I’ve been here for a month‚ but I’ve only been here for a week.
“I think everybody saw that I ran fifth at the Olympics‚ I ran sub-10 so many times. They see that potential going into Tokyo.”
Now he must get back to class‚ as he faces a small test on Monday.
“I don’t know anything. I haven’t opened a book . . . this will be my first class this year‚ the first time I’ve been in a lecture hall this year.
“I’m trying to get into that school mindset. I tell myself on Monday I’ll be back . . . at the end of the day I need to get my degree.”
Next year he plans to race the 200m more often‚ and he is likely to face Van Niekerk in the two shorter sprints.
“I know that Wayde is a really great athlete and he’ll make sure he brings his A game to the track.
“We know we’re going to race each other next year in the 100m and the 200m‚” he said.