Akani Simbine on track to run SA's first sub-10 100m below 1,000m

18 April 2024 - 11:59
By David Isaacson
Akani Simbine after running the 200m at the grand prix meet in Johannesburg last month.
Image: Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images Akani Simbine after running the 200m at the grand prix meet in Johannesburg last month.

Akani Simbine, in search of Olympic silverware at the 2024 Paris Games later this year, showed good form as he won his 100m heat at the national championships in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday morning in an impressive 10.07sec.

He was the quickest by far in the morning session in his first 100m of the season — next best was 2023 national junior champion Abduragmaan Karriem in 10.26 — and given Simbine’s tendency to go faster in the afternoon, he will surely be looking to dip under 10 seconds in the semifinals, which are scheduled for 1.50pm.

The final is set for Friday at 5.30pm.

This meet is the 10th anniversary of the first South African breaking the 10-second barrier over 100m, at the 2014 national championships in Pretoria. Six more have done it since then. 

Should Simbine sprint under 10 in either race at the Msunduzi stadium, the 30-year-old will become the first South African to achieve a sub-10 100m at an altitude below 1,000m.

Pietermaritzburg is about 600m above sea level, compared to the other sub-10 venues in Johannesburg (1,700m), Potchefstroom (1,400m), Bloemfontein (nearly 1,400m) and Pretoria (1,300m).

To date five South Africans have clocked 15 sub-10 100m races in the country, with Simbine responsible for 11 of those. He’s done seven in Pretoria and four in Potchefstroom.

Gift Leotlela did his in Johannesburg (9.94), Thando Roto in Pretoria (9.95), Wayde van Niekerk in Bloemfontein (9.98) and Simon Magakwe, who was the first South African to do it, going 9.98 in the final of the 2014 championships.

In total seven South Africans have been under 10 seconds without illegal wind assistance on 47 occasions. Simbine, owner of the 9.84 national record, has done it 39 times. 

US-based student Shaun Maswanganyi, the second-fastest South African with 9.91, has done it twice. His academic schedule prevented him from competing here. 

Van Niekerk also achieved it twice, with Magakwe, Henricho Bruintjies, Roto and Leotlela doing it once each.