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Akani Simbine stakes claim as Usain Bolt’s successor by beating Blake to 100m gold

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South Africa’s Akani Simbine reacts as he wins the athletics men’s 100m final during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast on April 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Adrian DENNIS

With the athletics world waiting to see who will fill the sprinting void left by Usain Bolt, it was Akani Simbine who seized the first opportunity since the Jamaican’s retirement to nail his first audition for the role by winning Commonwealth Games 100m gold, reports telegraph.co.uk.

The supposed blue riband event of the Games has scarcely registered on the global sprint radar in recent years.

It is difficult to imagine a single person other than Lerone Clarke himself regaling youngsters with tales of how the Jamaican prevailed at the 2010 Games.

Likewise, his fellow countryman Kemar Bailey-Cole’s triumph four years later in Glasgow.

But there was slightly more weight to Simbine’s victory in front of a packed Carrara Stadium last night.

Still relatively unknown outside of athletics circles, the 24-year-old South African finished fifth at the Rio 2016 Olympics and London 2017 World Championships, and quietly ran below 10 seconds on eight occasions last year.

Alongside the likes of Canada’s Andre de Grasse and Christian Coleman, of the United States, Simbine represents the future of global sprinting and he took a significant scalp on the way to victory in the Gold Coast by beating Yohan Blake, the second fastest man in history.

This race had been billed as a chance for Blake to win his first major individual title since the 2011 World Championships and Bolt had warned his former training partner: “You’ve got to win or you can’t go home.”

The Jamaican qualified fastest from the semi-finals, but stumbled out of the blocks in the final and never recovered from the early error as Simbine won by a distance in 10.03 seconds.

Henricho Bruintjies completed a one-two for South Africa by claiming silver, while Blake made do with bronze.

After the race, Blake admitted he may have underestimated his rivals. “I was supposed to win easily and I suppose I was too confident and maybe I over-thought it,” he said.

“I’ve been feeling great, but I was stumbling and I just couldn’t recover from it. I got up running but I couldn’t catch them.”

An elated Simbine said the gold medal was the biggest achievement of his career.

“I wasn’t focused on him [Blake], I was focused on myself and making sure I got out fast and that I got to the 50m as quick as I could,” he said.

“I knew if I could put that together, the rest of my race would come together smoothly and I’d win.”

Michelle Lee-Ahye became the first woman from Trinidad and Tobago to win a Commonwealth title when she triumphed in a sub-par women’s 100m final.

The fastest woman in the field by a considerable margin, Lee-Ahye came through strongly in the second half of the race to beat Jamaican pair Christania Williams and Gayon Evans in a winning time of 11.14sec.


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