How Akani Simbine's quest for a first major global medal is shaping up perfectly ahead of Paris Olympics

Akani Simbine

How Akani Simbine's quest for a first major global medal is shaping up perfectly ahead of Paris Olympics

Funmilayo Fameso 17:54 - 31.05.2024

Akani Simbine's unbeaten streak and consistency this season are pointers to the fact that it may finally be the year the 'nearly man' wins an individual major global medal at the Paris Olympic Games.

Akani Simbine showed once again his mission this season after beating a respectable field at the Oslo Diamond League in a Season's Best (SB) of 9.94s to maintain an unbeaten streak. Now, many believe it may finally be the year the 'nearly man' wins a global medal at the Paris Olympic Games.

The African sprint icon has been in impeccable form since he made his season's debut at the South African Championships in April, where he won his heat race in a decent 10.07s and a 10.01s in the final.

Akani Simbine is shaping up nicely to win a medal at the Paris Olympic Games

Next, to kick off his European tour, Simbine outclassed former world champions Christian Coleman and Fred Kerley at the Suzhou Diamond League, blazing to another 10.01s before his brilliant performance in Oslo.

While it may seem early to predict the outcome of Paris not ending up as another 'nearly' outing, his confidence and consistency shown so far are pointers to the fact that he may have found the missing element in his performances that can cause a change of fortunes in Paris.

“It ended up in the rain, which probably influenced the race. But at the end of the day, we all have to run 100m or not and get to the line first,” said Simbine on not getting his desired performance after his victory in Oslo.

“I did that today, which I am happy with, but I have a lot to work on and a lot to do. I am happy with my performance, and I hope there will be more highlights coming up as we build towards the Olympic Games,” he added.

The 30-year-old has struggled with years of poor luck in winning individual medals at major global championships - a downside in his glorious career.

Omanyala defeated Simbine for the Commonwealth Games title in Birmingham

He has finished outside the medal zone in 5/6 last major championship 100m races, which are fifth and fourth place positions at the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games, the same placements in 2017 and 2019, as well as fifth place at the 2022 World Championships. Another low point was a disqualification for a false start at the World Championships in Budapest last year.

To add more irony to his no-medal pain, Simbine broke the long-standing 100m African Record (AR) of 9.85s with a new 9.84s in July 2021, only for it to get smashed by Ferdinand Omanyala in September 2021 in a time of 9.77s.

Despite a few moments of victory by becoming the 2018 African and Commonwealth champion, the talented speedster is on a quest to upgrade his resume this year.

Simbine defeated Jamaica's Yohan Blake for the Commonwealth title in 2018

“I put my marker out to the world today that I am here. The goal was the win today (Oslo), and I did that. Getting the win always helps with confidence as we get closer to Paris," he concluded.

The men's 100m group is one of the most competitive events in track and field because there's always no definitive favourite to win a major final since the retirement of Usain Bolt.

Simbine has shown enough consistency and confidence to finally hit that medal jackpot this year against his rivals such as world champion Noah Lyles, Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs, and Africa's fastest duo - Letsile Tebogo and Ferdinand Omanyala.

Jacobs, Omanyala, and Lyles listed for sprint showdown at Paris Diamond League
Marcell Jacobs, Ferdinand Omanyala, and Noah Lyles

With the Paris Olympic Games in sight, it can finally be the venue where the stars align perfectly to turn his status from the 'nearly man' into making his dreams a reality.