The 2017 Athletics season is set to be a life changing one for several sprinters for a number of reasons, least of all the fact that the 16th edition of the IAAF World Championships will be staged this year.
The championship will signal the end of an era in some ways, with world beaters like Usain Bolt heading for retirement after the competition. It will also serve as a defining moment in the careers of others by virtue of their heroics at London 2017.
In view of the foregoing, here is Part 1 of our list of the World’s Top 10 Sprinters to watch out for this year. Our countdown will commence with Nos. 10 to 6 on the list.
10. AKANI SIMBINE
Occupying 10th position is South African Record holder in the 100m, Akani Simbine. The 23-year old had a commendable outing in 2016 even though he lost out in his bid for the African title, taking the Bronze medal behind Ben Youssef Meïté and Mosito Lehata, before anchoring his team to victory in the 4x100m.
Nevertheless, worthy of mention is the fact that he broke his National Record (NR) twice last year. He first shaved 0.01s off the former record, clocking a time of 9.96s at the ASA Night Series meeting in Pretoria. He then smashed his time at the Gyulai István Memorial in Székesfehérvár in July, stunning Asafa Powell to take the lead in a blazing time of 9.89s.
He completed the double at the meeting, taking the win in a Personal Best (PB) of 20.16s in the 200m. Simbine’s mark in the 100m ranked him as No.5 on the world list in 2016, just behind Justin Gatlin, Usain Bolt, Trayvon Bromell and Jimmy Vicaut. He also recorded an impressive performance at the Olympics where he admirably held his own against the world’s best sprinters.
Simbine placed 5th in the final in 9.94s, just 0.01s behind 4th-placed Yohan Blake, and 0.03s shy of Andre De Grasse’s Bronze-winning time. This makes him the first South African man to reach an Olympic 100m final in 84 years. The World University Games GOLD medallist posted five sub-10 runs in 2016, and finished 2nd at two Diamond League meetings.
We eagerly await his performances in 2017 in the build up to the London World Championships. The South African competed in the heats of the 100m at Moscow 2013, before upgrading to the semis of the 100m/200m at Beijing 2015. It would be great to see him square off with the world’s best once more and if possible, make the podium at London 2017.