Akani Simbine has just managed to become the sole holder of the South African 100 metres record but, according Werner Prinsloo, his coach, there will be no time for celebrations. It will be back to the grindstone immediately. On Tuesday the Tuks/HPC athlete won the 100 metres at Athletics South Africa’s Night Series meeting in 9.96 seconds to record a new national record.
It was only the second time that a local sprinter managed to run a sub-10 seconds race in South Africa and the fifth time if international races are also taken into account. Prinsloo made it clear that it is too early in the season to start celebrating. He says: ‘Our goal, which is to qualify for the Olympic final in Rio, remains the same, which means that there is still a lot of hard work to be done. That is why I say it is back to grindstone for Akani.’
Sport is all about rivalries and Saturday, at the Gauteng-North Championships at Pilditch, when Simbine (Tuks/HPC) will face Henricho Bruintjies (Tuks) in the short sprint’s final, may well be the beginning of a rivalry that could grip the imagination of sports fans across the country. Before Simbine blitzed out of his block on Tuesday, the two of them shared the national record. Bruintjies missed most of last year’s local season because of injuries and it will be the first time in nearly a year that they will race each other in a local sprint.
Judging by his performance on Tuesday Simbine should be the favourite, but rumour has it that Bruintjies is in good form. It is said that he is almost like a time bomb just waiting to explode. It should be remembered that Bruintjies improved his time in the 60m indoor races each time he raced in Europe.
He started off with 6.68s and ended with 6.62s in his last race. Prinsloo, who coaches both of them, is the proverbial man in the middle. He is not prepared to stick out his neck and make any predictions of who he expects to win. However, he hinted that Simbine might have a slight edge because the two of them have been working together for quite a few years while he only started coaching Bruintjies three weeks ago.
Prinsloo says: ‘Henricho and I are still in the process of getting used to working together. He still has to learn and understand what I expect from him as a coach, while I will have to find out what works and does not work for Bruintjies.’ There are those who are slightly worried about the fact that Simbine and Bruintjies will be training together. According to Prinsloo he is fully aware of the potential pitfalls but he is confident that they can make it work: ‘I made it clear to both of them that, when it comes to training, I will not stand any nonsense. At the moment everything is going smoothly. I think this is because they are both driven individuals who respect each other’s abilities as sprinters. They also know exactly what they want to achieve and they realise that their respective goals will mean that they will have to face each other on the track. It is very important that they always heed the principle of what happens on the track stays on the track.’
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott