TOKYO 2020: Seven sprinters lead Africa’s search for elusive Olympic gold in 100m race

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Kenya’s Ferdinand Omurwa Omanyala in action during the fifth heat of the Men's 100 metres at Olympic Stadium on the eighth day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan, Saturday July 31, 2021. /CFP Image
Kenya’s Ferdinand Omurwa Omanyala (R) in action during the fifth heat of the Men’s 100 metres at Olympic Stadium on the eighth day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan, Saturday July 31, 2021. /CFP Image

Africa continues its search for an elusive Olympic gold medal in the Men’s 100m race, 113 years since South Africa’s Reggie Walker won in London.

Walker beat all odds in the 1908 Olympics to clinch gold and engrave his name in the record books as the youngest ever winner of an Olympic 100m gold.

Seven athletes from the continent hope to follow in his footsteps in the Tokyo Games, having qualified on Saturday for the semi-final of the 100m race set to be staged on Sunday.

The seven will be led in the next stage by the 100 metres African record holder, Akani Simbine, who is competing in his second Olympics Games.

Simbine’s compatriots Gift Leotlela and Shaun Maswanganyi will represent South Africa in Saturday’s semi-final hits. They will be joined by Nigeria duo of Usheoritse Ese Itsekiri and Enoch Adegoke, Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala and Cote d’Ivoire’s Arthur Gue Cissé.

Ahead of Sunday’s showdown, Simbine said his focus was on performing to his best in the race.

“It’s been an amazing year for me personally. Everything has just been coming into plan and that excites the coach and me, but the bigger goal is right now,” Simbine told News24.

“One thing we need to keep reminding ourselves is that we need to be in the moment and race in the moment and be excited.”

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