Athletics

Simbine surprises a world-class sprint field

Making a mark: Akani Simbine, left, stunned the likes of Justin Gatlin, Asafa Powell and Andre De Grasse in men’s 100m.  

South Africa’s Akani Simbine surprised a world-class sprint field, including Justin Gatlin, Asafa Powell and Andre De Grasse to claim a season-opening 100m Diamond League victory on Friday.

The 23-year-old powered home in 9.99 seconds to become the first South African man to win a Diamond League 100m, and serve notice that the Blue Riband event could be more competitive than for some time with the impending international retirement of Usain Bolt.

“I’m happy with my shape now, just to come up here and set a motivation for the rest of the season is what I was hoping for,” said Simbine.

Jamaica’s Powell, a former world record holder, finished second in a time of 10.08, and Qatar’s Femi Ogunode was a place further back in 10.13.

Silver and bronze medallists in Rio, American Gatlin and Canada’s de Grasse, Bolt’s heir apparent, trailed in fourth and fifth.

Women’s double Olympic sprint champion, Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson once again beat her main rival Dafne Schippers in the 200m. Thompson stormed home in 22.19, around half-a-second down on her winning time in Rio, and pronounced herself “very happy” immediately after. “It’s a great first time (of the season),” said Elaine.

Schippers, silver medallist behind Elaine in the same event in Rio, said she was taking the early season defeat as an omen.

Caster Semenya said she surprised herself with her finish after winning the women’s 800m in a time of 1 min 56.61, the fastest of the year so far. Semenya beat Kenya’s Margaret Wambui, who claimed bronze behind the South African in Rio.

There was a blanket finish for Kenyan runners, who filled the first six places in the men’s 800m. Eijah Manangoi, the 2015 World Championship silver medallist, took the first place in a season’s best of 3 mins 31.9.

But arguably the performance of the night came off the track in the javelin where Germany’s Thomas Rohler threw 93.90, only the second man in history to throw such a distance.

Czech javelin legend Jan Zelesny threw the best ever of 98.48 in 1996, a distance which would be scrapped under a controversial proposal by European athletics to scrap world records set before 2005.

“It was perfect, I am super-happy,” said Kohler.

Asked if he would like to see the records wiped out, the German said he would “support” anything that ensures a clean sport.

American double Olympic gold-medallist triple jumper Christian Taylor secured victory with a last round jump of 17.25m to deny compatriot Omar Craddock.


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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 10:58:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/athletics/simbine-surprises-a-world-class-sprint-field/article18401209.ece

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