South African sprinter Akani Simbine
Roger Sedres/Gallo Images
South African sprinter Akani Simbine acknowledged his disappointment as he just missed out on an Olympic medal in the men’s 100m final on Sunday.
Simbine, running out of lane two, finished fourth as he fell short by 0.04 seconds of the bronze medal at Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.
The national and African record holder crossed the finish line in 9.93 seconds as Italian Lamont Marcell Jacobs stunned the field to clinch gold in 9.80.
America’s Fred Kerley (9.84) and Canadian Andre de Grasse (9.89) picked up the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Simbine, who was the highest-ranked sprinter heading into the final, admitted that he had been beaten by the best man on the day.
“It wasn’t too crazy, it’s a bit of the norm. Anything can happen in a final and the best man won,” Simbine told reporters on Sunday.
“Everyone was a challenge when you step into the final and when you’re competing for the gold medal and he just had his best run, he ran a European record and that’s his best run.”
Simbine dismissed any notion that the outside lane had anything to do with his fourth-place finish.
“It wasn’t too difficult, I had to run my own race. At the end of the day, I can only control my race,” he said.
“I did the best I could in that situation. I’m a bit disappointed, but I still have that fire in me to get on that podium.”
It is the first time since Beijing 2008 that a new 100m champion was crowned since the retirement of Jamaica’s Usain Bolt.
In Rio 2016, a then fresh-faced Simbine finished fifth (9.94) and five years later, a fourth-place finish in Tokyo.
“It sucks. For me, I just wanted to be on the podium, it’s been five years of just missing out and now it’s another year and another year to miss out on a podium.”
Simbine revealed, however, that this would motivate him even further as he eyes Paris 2024.
“It’s going to drive me even more, to train even harder and next year be a faster and a better athlete,” he said.
“I still believe in two more Olympics, that’s my goal. I’m not going to stop after this because I’m disappointed. I’m going to go on, I believe I can win a gold medal, it’ll happen whenever my time is.”
Simbine has a few days to recover before preparing for the men’s 4x100m relay, with the heats scheduled for Thursday.
“I’m just going to take the night to gather myself and just get it going after that. We’re looking forward to the relay, we have a good chance and I hope I can pull it together there,” said Simbine.
“This is different. If I can go out and represent my country, I’ll be happy to (win a medal in the relay).”
*Lynn Butler is in Tokyo covering the Olympic Games for Sport24