Deji’s Doodles has become one of our most popular columns. This is his fifth column under the title. This week, he opines on Akani Simbine, Ferdinand Omanyala, Allyson Felix, and Abby Steiner.
Allyson Felix and her daughter, Camryn, 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto
Akani Simbine needs not to worry; despite his loss to Ferdinand Omanyala, Allyson Felix is set to finally call it quits, and Can Erriyon Knighton blossom in the 100m?
The last week in the World of track and field provided us with interesting subplots of potentially how the season might play out. The USATF Bermuda games brought a collection of Olympic Champions together but it was the huge negative wind reading that took the shine off a fine cast of events, the two fastest men in Africa went head-to-head in South Africa, while US great Allyson Felix confirmed this would be her last season of competing.
Akani Simbine need not worry despite his loss to Ferdinand Omanyala
It was billed as the battle of the two fastest men in Africa, and it rightly delivered a spectacle. Not so for the less than 1000-capacity home crowed who were rooting for their own, Akani Simbine. The former African record holder was blown out of the waters by Ferdinand Omanyala who is the current African record holder over 100m in their duel at the ASA Grand Prix in Germiston.
Omanyala lived up to his word by running inside 10s after he stopped the clock at 9.98, with Simbine having to settle for the not-too-convincing time of 10.11. It has been well established that Omanyala is in terrifying form and this just makes him the undisputed fastest man on the continent. Two races against Simbine, two wins.
Moreso, and rather importantly, is what this means for Simbine. It’s uncharted territory for the South African. For the first time in his career, he finds himself playing second fiddle to another sprinter on the continent. However, there are reasons to be optimistic.
The last two years in which he raced this time of the month in South Africa have seen him race to wins all inside 10.10s. In fact, he notched up a wind-aided 9.82s in April of 2021. His running form still feels a bit laid back and he needs more races to get into his full momentum, as this was his second competition of the year. Unlike Omanyala who has raced in more than 10 competitions indoors and outdoors so far this year.
So, getting his form is absolutely critical, one which with more competition will improve his time, and potentially revenge on his latest rival. The clock is ticking as the African Championships are less than two months away in Mauritius.
Allyson Felix is finally set to call it quits from Athletics
Quanara Hayes, Allyson Felix, London 2017 photo by Mike Deering / The Shoe Addicts, for RunBlogRun
Everything good comes to an end, eventually. So, when Allyson Felix confirmed during the week that this would be her last year competing on the track, it felt surreal. The most decorated Track and Field athlete at the World and Olympic levels with 19 and 11 medals, respectively has given her all to the sport and beyond.
Her legacy and legendary status transcend the sport. He advocacy for female athletes who became mothers to being allowed to compete at the top level, taking on sport kitting company giants Nike, her resilience to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Felix was the whole package. The sport will surely struggle to replace her.
On the track, Felix was the all-around sprinter. 10.89 in 100m, 21.69 in 200m, and 49.26 in 400m, she also won numerous laurels across all disciplines. Talk about being the whole package in an athlete.
“This season, I’m running for women. I’m running for a better future for my daughter. I’m running for you. I’m hoping will make the world better for women.” Felix said.
Now that she has conquered the track, her next phase of life has already been decided. Even though it wasn’t really hard to tell, considering how much pregnancy and motherhood have shaped her life in the last three years.
So, let’s savor every last moment we get to watch Felix this season. Not every top athlete gets to get a swansong on their terms, but like she has shaped her career from the start and not let outside forces dictate how things get to be done, we get to enjoy her one last time.
Erriyon Knighton might just cut his teeth over the 100m
By now, it’s no longer news that US sprinter, Erriyon Knighton is very special. Last season was a breakthrough year for him in which he took down all of Usain Bolt’s 200m Junior records as he capped it up by finishing 4th at the Olympics final.
Erriyon Knighton, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto
Although he rarely raced over the 100m in 2021, he reached a Personal Best of 10.16s. It was a two-edged sword. How good can he be over the 100m? Can he blossom in the one-lap event? Well, last week’s USATF Bermuda Games gave us an inclination of what to expect this season if he decides to combine the 200m with the 100m.
On the Island, though Knighton faced a bigger obstacle than some of the competitors he lined up against. The wind. -5.6m/s was the reading in the men’s final that included Yohan Blake, Noah Lyles and Jerome Blake.
Although he seemed to be off-balance at the start of the race and also had the slowest reaction time of the field, Knighton held his own to finish third in 10.39s, tying Lyles down to the one-thousandth of a second.
A lot still has to be worked upon, especially his start. The raw talent is there, obviously. The fact he ran the same time as Lyles, who holds the fourth-fastest 200m time of all time, is proof of that. In the end, this lad looked perfectly poised to produce something special over the 100m this year.
After having a 2021 season to forget Abby Steiner is back!
After suffering an injury that hampered her 2021 season, USA’s Abby Steiner is now fulfilling her immense potential after she stormed to a World leading best of 10.92s over the women’s 100m at the Joy May Invitational in Los Angeles.
Abby Steiner, photo by UK Athletics
Injuries can be a real stinker to athletes at any stage of their careers. For someone as precocious as Steiner it took a huge toll on her. However, by virtue of her performance indoors and now outdoors, there’s a sense that she has put them behind her.
Steiner has always relied on her top-end speed right from her early stages of sprinting, and despite her rupturing her Achilles before the outdoor season in 2021, it’s impotent to not that she hasn’t reached full stretch. The way she swathed aside Mikiah Brisco; the 2020 indoor silver medalist, was a thing of beauty.
These are moments that can be seen as a watershed. The quality and talent have never been in doubt. For someone who became a 16-time state champion and broke the record for both indoor and outdoor 60m, 200m, and 100m runs while she was in High school.
All the more incredible was her 22.38s clocking shortly afterward over the 200m despite running against a significant headwind of -5.6m/s. It’s an NCAA lead over the 200m and the 3rd fastest time in the World this year. If you are a fan of adjusted theoretical wind reading to the allowable 2.0m/s, then you are looking at something close to 22.10s.
Doesn’t matter really because Steiner is a gem that can’t be hidden and it’s just a matter of time before she replicates this performance on a larger scale.