Can Akani Simbine take over Olympics 100m baton from Usain Bolt?
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ON your marks. Get set. Go!
And in a blink of an eye the 100m final is over. No event keeps the entire world captivated for just under 10 seconds than the highlight of every Olympic Games.
It is the showpiece that decides the fastest man on the planet. It’s been Usain Bolt’s sole domain - arguably the greatest sprinter that’s ever lined up in the blocks – for the past 12 years.
But Jamaican legend’s reign is now over and a new king has to be crowned in Tokyo on Sunday (2:50pm SA time)
Who could it be?
South Africa have only ever had one previous 100m champion in its Olympic history and that was over a century ago when Reggie Walker claimed the coveted gold at 1908 London Games. In fact, it was South Africa’s first ever Olympic medal.
One hundred and thirteen years later Akani Simbine is being touted to break the tape first in Tokyo. Simbine certainly has the pedigree and at 26 years old is at the peak of his career.
Equally, he is in the form of his life, having scorched to a new African record of 9.84 seconds, recently in Hungary. He has also felt the adrenaline of a 100m Olympic final pumping through his veins after finishing fifth behind Bolt in Rio de Janeiro four years ago. The whole of Mzansi will be cheering him on.
But who are Simbine's challengers?
The Americans will be desperate to reclaim the crown after Bolt’s 12-year long reign. They were, however, dealt a major blow when current world champion Christian Coleman was ruled out after missing three drug tests in a year.
Such is the depth of the US’s sprinting talent, though, that they have still managed to assemble a freakishly fast team with the hugely-impressive Trayvon Bromell leading the charge.
Bromell may have finished last in Rio four years ago, but he now boasts the fastest time in 2021 when he ran a personal best 9.77 seconds in June. Nobody in the current field has run faster.
Ronnie Baker and Fred Kerley will also fly the American flag with pride in Tokyo.
And what about the Canadian?
Andre de Grasse is the only medallist from Rio that has returned four years later in a bid to improve his podium finish. Having claimed Olympic bronze, and again at the World Championships two years later, De Grasse will feel that his moment to shine has finally arrived now that the likes of Bolt and Justin Gatlin are no longer around.
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