Akani SImbine was meant to take over from Usain Bolt: what happened and can he still?

Akani Simbine made history at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games after becoming the first South African to qualify for the 100m final sprint for 84 years. It was a seismic event for the sports-mad public of the Rainbow Nation which is why the country came to a standstill during the running of the final.

Sadly, Simbine could only finish in fifth position after recording a time of 9.94 seconds but it was still an achievement that made him a household name in South Africa.

Six years on from that enthralling night in Rio de Janeiro and Simbine has enjoyed a glittering career in its own right after becoming a Commonwealth Games winner as well as an African champion.

However, top honors on the world stage still elude the Kempton Park-born sprinter with the 28-year-old only managing a fifth-place finish at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, in late July 2022.

It does appear to be a recurring trend with Simbine given that for all his success on the continent of Africa, he has been unable to leave his mark on the summit of the sport. In many ways, it’s an equation that is hard to get your head around when you consider that Simbine was tipped to take over the 100m baton from Usain Bolt when the Jamaican retired to pursue a career in soccer.

Indeed, Bolt was handed a trial with German club Borussia Dortmund immediately afterward but was never good enough to officially make soccer his second act.

However, it’s worth saying in Bolt’s defense that at a long price of 8/1 in the latest betting to win the Bundesliga courtesy of odds supplied by Bodog, one of the most exciting sports betting online operators, it does feel as if Dortmund could do worse than having one of the world’s fastest men playing for them in attack.

Nevertheless, irrespective of the islander’s rejection, Bolt’s decision was meant to signal Simbine’s opportunity. Regrettably, it hasn’t worked out that way.

At 28 though, there is still time for Simbine to bridge the gap between the world’s number one and himself for the Paris Summer Olympics Games in 2024. The question is, how does he do it?

To begin with, the South African has to be of the mindset that he can beat the world’s best. It may seem trivial but a mere one-tenth of a second currently separates him from the world’s fastest man, Fred Kerley.

The difference is almost negligible but at the same time, also defining. In short, there’s no chance that Simbine can bridge this gap without first believing that he can.

In addition to that, Simbine’s chances of winning gold in Paris will come down to how disciplined he is off the track. Indeed, marginal gains can be achieved through unwavering self-control when it comes to training, dietary requirements, and additional gym work. Put another way, the 28-year-old has to be outdoing his competitors’ training in the build-up to the Paris games.

There is also an element of luck that Simbine needs to go for him when you consider how quickly this race concludes. Essentially, four years of training and preparation are summed up in fewer than ten seconds so he’ll have to rely on a faultless start when the gun sounds, as well as having done everything he could in the build-up.

This undoubtedly means that all the preparation would have had to be done before the South African Airways plane carrying Simbine touches down at Charles de Gaulle Airport in the summer of 2024. Should it have been meticulous then there may be one last chance for the 28-year-old to have his name written into the history books.

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