Akani Simbine ran a storming anchor leg to help Team South Africa clinch the gold medal in the men’s 4x100m relay by the narrowest of margins at the World Relays in Poland on Sunday night.
National 100m champion Simbine received the baton from Clarence Munyai for the final leg with South Africa slightly behind Brazil.
The 27-year-old drifted further behind as he tried to secure the baton in his left hand, and it took at least another 30 or so metres for him to get into his full stride on a chilly night in Silesia.
But Simbine, who ran a wind-assisted 9.82 seconds in Pretoria last month, showed his class in the last 50 metres as he chased down the Brazilians’ finisher, Paulo André Camilo de Oliveira.
It looked like Simbine was going to run out of space to catch the South American, but he never gave up and ran "through the line" – the practice of not stopping or dipping just before the line, but actually running at full tilt, something he has been working on throughout 2021.
And this time around the practice paid off, as Simbine clinched the gold medal, with South Africa winning in 38.71, one-hundredth of a second quicker than Brazil, who were initially credited with second place in 38.72.
But the official results that were released a few minutes later saw Brazil disqualified, with Italy handed the silver medal in 39.21, while Japan took the bronze in 39.42.
Bonkers. pic.twitter.com/EmOSS6Zu8j— Junia (@mjstainbank) May 2, 2021
The result will be a major confidence-booster for SA relays coach Paul Gorries and his team for the Tokyo Olympics, where they will be up against the likes of the United States, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, who all opted not to travel to Poland due to Covid-19 travel protocols.