Sprinter Akani Simbine and coach off to a flying start
Sprinter Akani Simbine will finally have the luxury of having his coach travel with him throughout the European summer‚ thanks to a three-year R8m sponsorship deal.
Simbine was at school when he joined Werner Prinsloo in 2010‚ but for much of the past few seasons he has headed into battle without his trusted second at his side.
Prinsloo travelled to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the 2017 world championships in London‚ where Simbine finished fifth in the 100m final on both occasions.
The agreement with fibre connectivity provider Liquid Telecom‚ which will run until the Tokyo 2020 Olympics‚ will help the duo in several ways.
Not only will Prinsloo be able to travel with Simbine‚ but he will also be free to work with the sprinter in the mornings‚ having given up his IT sales job.
"When he [Simbine] got to the track [in the afternoons] he would sometimes still have the gym in his legs from the morning workout," Prinsloo said.
Footwear sponsor Adidas is complementing the deal‚ which also arranges for Prinsloo to do the equivalent of an apprenticeship with a top coach‚ either Olympic champion Usain Bolt’s former trainer Glen Mills in Jamaica or Florida-based Lance Brauman‚ who handles Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas.
Simbine said he had struggled perfecting his block starts abroad without his coach there to scrutinise him in training.
"It’s a lot of self-doubt and confusion. Sometimes you believe you’re doing the right thing and you’re moving‚ and other times it feels like‚ ‘Nah‚ it’s not going’.
"Now he can be there and he can see that and he can fix what needs to be fixed."
Prinsloo has already tweaked the training programme for 2018, incorporating one key element from 2016 when Simbine set his 9.89sec SA 100m record.
"In 2016 we focused a lot on his starts because we knew that’s going to be the critical point if he wants to get in with the big boys.
"So I’m going back to that sort of thinking‚ making sure he consistently has good starts in every race. If he does he has one of the best top-end speeds in the world‚ he really does."
Simbine’s starts suffered a little in 2017.
"The focus shifted a bit in 2017 which was maybe not the right thing to do‚" admitted the sprinter’s coach.
"We knew he was going to double at world champs‚ the 100‚ 200‚ so I went a bit to the endurance side of things.
"He’s not going to do a lot of 200s this year."
Simbine believes he is capable of lowering his record substantially‚ although he did not want to be drawn on how fast he could go.
"To be at the top he needs to go low 9.8 seconds‚ if not 9.7‚" said Prinsloo.
"He needs to be consistently running 9.8s."