Commonwealth Games 2018: Gold Coast, April 4-15

Simbine's shock success

South Africa's Akani Simbine beating Jamaica's Yohan Blake to the 100m gold at the Carrara Stadium yesterday. Simbine's compatriot Henricho Bruintjies came in second ahead of the third-placed Blake. Simbine's previous best results in the event were f
South Africa's Akani Simbine beating Jamaica's Yohan Blake to the 100m gold at the Carrara Stadium yesterday. Simbine's compatriot Henricho Bruintjies came in second ahead of the third-placed Blake. Simbine's previous best results in the event were fifth-placed finishes at the Rio Games and last year's London world championships.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Unheralded South African stuns stumbling favourite Blake to be crowned Games' fastest man

GOLD COAST • Jamaica's Yohan Blake tripped up in his attempt to reassert himself as a sprint king as South Africa's Akani Simbine won a stunning 100m gold at the Commonwealth Games yesterday.

As athletics began a new era without Usain Bolt, the stage was set for fellow Jamaican Blake to win his first major individual gold since winning the 2011 world title.

But, in cool conditions at the Carrara Stadium, Simbine stormed up lane seven to claim victory in 10.03 seconds.

Blake, the fastest man into the final in 10.06, stumbled out of the blocks and dipped for bronze in a disappointing 10.19, behind South African silver-medallist Henricho Bruintjies' 10.17.

It was a chastening outing for Blake, who holds the joint-second fastest time in history, but whose career has long been overshadowed by Bolt.

"I was stumbling all the way and I didn't recover from it," said the 28-year-old.

"I'm disappointed because I've been feeling good. I didn't get the start and I was all over the place. I couldn't recover from it."

Blake, desperate to shine after the retirement of Bolt, 31, has been hampered by injuries since shocking the world in Daegu, South Korea.

And the likes of Canada's Andre de Grasse had overtaken him as the possible heir to Bolt.

Yet in a seven-man final that was weakened by the withdrawal of injured Briton Adam Gemili - the third-fastest qualifier (10.11) and fourth-placed finisher in the 200m at the Rio Olympics - Blake failed to tighten Jamaica's stranglehold in this event to four straight Games.

Blake was such a favourite that in the build-up to the race, Bolt told him that 'You've got to win, you've got to do your best or you can't go home'. Bolt, however, had only encouraging words for his compatriot after the race.

"Congrats @AkaniSimbine #Gold," the eight-time Olympic champion tweeted. "Well done @YohanBlake Keep putting in the work. You know your journey."

BBC pundit and four-time Olympic champion Michael Johnson was more critical of Blake, who has won only in relays since his world title seven years ago.

"When you have a horrible start like that, you have to keep to your race plan but he threw it away and began racing like a kid in the schoolyard," he told BBC Sport.

Simbine's previous best results were fifth-placed finishes at the Rio Games and the London world championships last year.

"It's my first international title and for me it's a milestone, a stepping stone towards the world championships, and the Olympics and more competitions and more international competitions," said the 24-year-old.

"I just focused on myself and making sure I get out fast and get to the 50m as quick as I can."

There was more disappointment for sprint powerhouses Jamaica as Christania Williams (11.21) and Gayon Evans (11.22) settled for silver and bronze respectively in the women's 100m.

Trinidad and Tobago's Michelle-Lee Ahye won the race in 11.14.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2018, with the headline 'Simbine's shock success'. Print Edition | Subscribe