International Sport

Akani Simbine makes SA history in Olympic final

UP sprinter Akani Simbine narrowly missed out on a podium finish when he placed fifth in the 100 m final at the Rio Olympics.

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt took his third gold medal in the 100 m Olympic finals with a time of 9.81 s. USA’s Justin Gatlin took silver, crossing in a time of 9.89 s and Canada’s Andre de Grasse took bronze with a time of 9.91 s. Simbine was fast out of the blocks and by the 50 m mark looked on course for a medal, running neck and neck with Gatlin, who led at that stage. Bolt started in typical slow fashion but after the halfway mark powered his way through for the gold. Simbine could not sustain his pace and was overtaken by both Gatlin and De Grasse after the 50 m mark.

He still made history, however, by becoming the first South African male sprinter to make it into the final of the 100 m since South Africa’s readmission to the Olympic Games. Simbine qualified for the final as one of the two fastest sprinters outside of the top two in their respective semi-finals.


Image: Akani Simbine’s Twitter page.

Rowing in Rio de Janeiro

South African rowing duo and UP High Performance Centre athletes John Smith and James Thompson narrowly missed out on a podium finish as they finished fourth in the lightweight double sculls final.

The duo’s time of 6:33.29 min was not enough to get a medal as they finished behind France’s Pierre Houin and Jeremie Azou, who grabbed the gold medal, Ireland’s Gary and Paul O’Donovan who finished second, and Norway’s Brun Kristoffer and Strandli Are who narrowly beat the South Africans to the bronze medal.

Read more: Rowing in Rio de Janeiro

World record for Wayde

Wayde van Niekerk made history in the early hours of Monday 15 August when he became the world’s 400 m Olympic champion. He broke Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old record with a time of 43.03 s. His competitors included gold medallists Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt.

Fans were nervous about Van Niekerk’s position leading up to the race, as he was set to take the outside line. Athletes who compete in this lane are described as “running blind”, without an awareness of the distance from their competitors. Van Niekerk held his lead from the start of the race as commentators questioned whether he would be able to keep up his pace.

Read more: World record for Wayde

Restoration for Manyonga in Rio

UP-Tuks track and field athlete Luvo Manyonga added to the South African Olympic medal tally on 14 August. The 25-year old made national headlines by scooping the silver medal in the long jump event.

Manyonga had a strong start as he stood in pole position leading up to the climax of the event with a jump of 8.28 m. He improved on his lead when he sprang a distance of 8.37 m with his fifth attempt and gold looked very probable. Unfortunately, Manyonga miscued his last attempt and was unable to improve on that. American Jeff Henderson snatched away gold when he grazed a mere 1 cm past Manyonga’s standing lead.

Read more: Restoration for Manyonga in Rio

Leroux Hamman shows why hard work pays off

Team South Africa will have its full complement of men’s 400 m hurdlers at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro from 5-21 August, and one of them will be UP’s very own Leroux Hamman. The 24-year-old athlete achieved the Olympic qualifying time at UP-Tuks Athletics’ opening of its new athletics track this past June, winning his race with a new personal best of 49.24 s, demolishing his previous only sub-50 run of 49.99 s. For years, Hamman was considered as one of many local 400 m hurdles runners hoping to break the 50 second barrier. According to Hamman, “four hard years of training and devotion” has allowed the UP athlete to initially change his time from 50.99 s to 49.99 s, which was the first indication that Hamman was improving.

Read more: Leroux Hamman shows why hard work pays off

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