Akani Simbine, Gift Leotlela, Shaun Maswanganyi advance to 100m semi-finals, Ruswahl Samaai knocked out

Cejhae Greene of Antigua and Barbuda, Akani Simbine of South Africa and Arthur Cisse of Ivory Coast in action during Heat 6.

AKANI Simbine got the job done following a false start in his heat, but it was Gift Leotlela who looked the most impressive of the South African sprinters as the 100m event kicked off at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.

The African record-holder Simbine had a nervy beginning to his championship after Togo athlete Fabrice Dabla was disqualified for a false start, which followed Nigeria’s Divine Oduduru bowing out in similar circumstances in an earlier heat.

So, Simbine stayed patient when coming out of the blocks – although he had the second-quickest reaction time – and took his time to get going as the Ivory Coast’s Arthur Cisse charged into the lead.

It was all about advancing to the semi-finals and not quick times, so Simbine will be happy about easing through, with Cisse second in 10.15, followed by Paulo Camilo of Brazil in third with 10.17.

But it was Leotlela who displayed real speed while cruising to victory in heat four in a time of 10.04 seconds. Having run a personal best of 9.94 earlier in the year, he is one of the outside bets for a place in the final, and now he will go all out in Sunday’s semi-finals.

Leotlela was into his stride from the start and was chasing China’s Bingtian Su, whom he eventually caught close to the line. Su was second in 10.05, with Jason Rogers of Saint Kitts and Nevis third in 10.21.

Shaun Maswanganyi ensured that all three South Africans made the semi-finals, but he had to work hard to clinch the third and final automatic qualification spot in his heat after Italian Lamont Marcell Jacobs set a personal best of 9.94 to emerge victorious.

Maswanganyi raced into the lead from the start, but Jacobs quickly caught up and stormed to victory. The South African ended third in 10.12, trailing Jamaica’s Oblique Seville in second (10.04).

The fastest qualifier was Canada’s Andre de Grasse in 9.91, followed by Jacobs at 9.94 and American Fred Kerley with 9.97.

But the heat will rise in Sunday’s semi-finals and final. Leotlela lines up in the first semi-final at 12.15pm SA time, Maswanganyi is in the second race at 12.23pm, with Simbine in the last semi-final at 12.31.

The first two athletes in each semi-final will receive automatic qualification, followed by the two ‘fastest losers’.

The final is at 2.50pm SA time.

Meanwhile, it was a disappointing evening session for South African long jump champion Ruswahl Samaai, as he was unable to advance to the final.

Samaai produced jumps of 7.70m and 7.74m, and then had a no-jump with his final attempt, with automatic qualification set at 8.15m.

South Africa’s second long-jumper, Cheswill Johnson, had two no-jumps, and didn’t attempt a third effort.

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