Road To Redemption: Simbine sets sights on Paris


By Karien Jonckheere

After shaking off a disappointing end to last season, which had started so promisingly but ended with a false start in the 100m semifinal and a dropped baton at the World Athletics Championships, Akani Simbine is only looking forward.

Forward to next month’s National Championships and then on to the Olympic Games in Paris. He’s now a married man, feeling settled and revved up for the season ahead.

“I’m feeling good, it’s been a good start to the year, a good start to the season. I’m healthy, training is going really well, I had my first off-season race with the 150 which went well, and everything is just going according to plan right now,” he explained, referring to the new SA record he set in the rarely run 150m at the Simbine Curro Classic Shootout in Pretoria last month.

“That was very important because I think coming from my last race, which was the DQ at world champs, it was a confidence booster and also getting that tick in your mind saying that OK, you know what, I can still do this, I’ve still got that competitive edge, I’m still hungry to compete,” added the 30-year-old.

“We’re building up to SAs now, making sure that I run well there, retain my title there, and get on to the rest of the year. I’m looking forward to it, confident for the season, confident for the year.”

Simbine has described the Olympic year ahead as one in which he and his coach Werner Prinsloo are taking care of unfinished business.

“Paris is a race and a place where I’m looking forward to running. For Coach and I it’s also kind of like a redemption road where we had everything ticked off last year and the false start happened. So now this year it’s about coming back and just keeping on working and doing everything that we need to do to make sure we’re ready to race.

“It’s just another race at the end of the day… It’s just the title that changes and I need to get that in my head and to accept that and enjoy it and give my all,” added the two-time Olympic finalist who has earned a reputation as one of the gentlemen of the sport.

Perhaps what keeps him so grounded is his mission to give back through his company Back Sports, which aims to provide a platform for younger athletes to excel – not only in the sport itself by broadcasting their exploits but also by getting them involved behind the scenes in the TV production.

“We’re giving the students an opportunity to learn production, to learn how to shoot, how to do media and just giving them that skill… So we pay them a salary, and then you’re allowed to go train, go to championships.

“For us it’s literally empowering them in those ways, just changing lives, and just making a small impact where we can. We’ve been blessed with an opportunity with Supersport schools to spread our wings and shoot the sporting events and empower more kids and have more reach. I think we have teams all over the country and that’s close to 100 kids that we are changing lives for, that’s 100 families that we’re changing lives for and impacting. And for me, if we’re doing that, I’m happy.”