Akani Simbine

Akani Simbine improved his own South African men’s 100m record after flashing to 9.96 seconds at the ASA Nite Series in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Only former World and Olympic medallist Frank Fredericks (9.94) of Namibia has ever run faster at this stage of the season, according to the track and field stats gurus.

Running from lane four, Simbine got away to a modest start and ran level with Emile Erasmus for much of the first half of the race.

However, the 22-year-old separated himself from the field with a blinding transition from 60m to 100m on his way to lowering his previous best of 9.97 secs, which was set when winning last year’s World University Games 100m crown in Gwangju.

He had also shared the South African record with Henricho Bruintjies.

The time ran by Simbine on Tuesday, easily bettered the previous world-leading mark of 10.15 seconds recorded by Josh Clarke of Australia, last month.

This is the third time that Simbine was dipping below the 10-seconds barrier in the 100m in his career, following his 9.97 secs and 9.99 secs performances last year.

“Already people have been asking me how it feels to run that fast and I honestly don’t know how to answer that question, but I’m really happy to run 9.96,” said Simbine on the IAAF website, adding that, “Everything just came together.

“Right now we’re still going to stick to the plan that we set out at the beginning of the season because it’s obviously working.”

Simbine, who clocked 10.02 seconds for four-place in the semifinals at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing last year and 20.37 secs in the 200m semis, says he’s looking forward to lining up against the likes of Usain Bolt and the rest of the big boys this summer at Rio 2016.

“I’m going to make sure I’m ready for Rio and I’m still sharp at that time,” he said.

“I have the self-belief that I can compete with the big guys.

“I believe it’s only a matter of time before I stand up against the best in the world.”

Meanwhile, in Pretoria, Erasmus finished second in 10.22secs, with third place going to Thando Roto in 10.29.

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