As he prepares for the 2020 Track and Field season, national 100m record holder Akani Simbine will be eager to retain his place among the fastest men in the world. Simbine discussed his 2019 campaign, after finishing 4th in the short sprint final at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, and what we can expect from him this year.
Looking back, what are your thoughts on your 2019 season?
I had a good season, with more highs than lows and I’m happy to have finished off the season healthy.
So you’re pleased, in general, with the way it went?
Yes and no. Yes because I was always in the top spots and no because I didn’t get a medal (at the World Championships) but that’s part of the game.
What was the highlight of your season and why?
Just finishing the season off healthy as I have a base to build from for the Olympics.
Having found consistency at the highest level, how confident are you that you’ll be able to challenge for a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?
I just need to focus on bettering my race and being more clinical when it matters, and that will help me improve as a championship runner.
Are you going to focus on the 100m and 200m events this year?
Yes, I’ll be racing both distances.
How much does it add to your motivation to anchor a national 4x100m relay team that is also able to challenge for medals?
It’s great to have fellow national athletes at major champs with me and knowing we are coming together as a team to fight for our country. It is great.
What are you looking forward to in 2020?
The Olympic Games and having a great season!
Did the absence of Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya at last year’s World Championships have any effect on the morale of the team?
Not really. Everyone was focused on their own thing. We must remember that athletics is more of an individual sport, so if they are there or not, athletes will still focus on themselves. It’s great to have them and celebrate with them when they win, but you have your own fight when you’re on the track.
What is your take on the future of South African sprinting?
Younger athletes just have to allow themselves to go through the process. It’s not just going to happen overnight. This is a process that needs patience.
Interview by Athletics South Africa