'I love it!' - American Olympic champion weighs in on African sprint king debate involving Omanyala, Tebogo & Simbine

'I love it!' - American Olympic champion weighs in on African sprint king debate involving Omanyala, Tebogo & Simbine

Mark Kinyanjui 16:00 - 30.05.2024

Omanyala, Simbine and Tebogo have been aiming digs at each other over the battle for the best sprinter in Africa, which is exciting the American sprint legend.

American sprint sensation has revealed why he is impressed with the ongoing battle for the title of ‘Africa’s fastest man’ just days after Akani Simbine became the latest African sprinter to claim he was the king of the sport in the continent.

The debate has intensified in recent days. Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala asserts his dominance, pointing to his personal best time of 9.76 seconds—the fastest in African history—and his African title won in 2022.

 Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo, meanwhile, references his performances at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest last year, where he secured silver and bronze medals in the 100m and 200m races, respectively.

Adding to the mix, Simbine has staked his claim as Africa’s top sprinter, especially after defeating Omanyala in Atlanta earlier this month.

 Responding to whether he considers himself part of this debate, Simbine stated, “I am waiting for that conversation, I never left. We will see,” indicating his readiness to be recognized as a leading contender, particularly with the Paris Olympics approaching.

Gatlin, observing these developments, has expressed his excitement over the burgeoning rivalry on his Ready Set Go podcast

 “He has put his flag at the top of the mountain so far and made it clear he is the fastest African. I love this whole topic now,” Gatlin said. “We were talking about who was the fastest American or Caribbean before, but now we are talking about who is the fastest African, bonafide.”

Gatlin noted that Simbine has taken the world lead from Christian Martin, the high school sensation who ran 9.93 seconds.

 “Now, we have a person in the professional scene who has taken that time, Simbine.”

Moreover, Gatlin has offered advice to non-European athletes on how to increase their marketability and financial success beyond their home regions. He highlighted Simbine’s endorsement by watch brand Richard Mille as a case in point.

 “A lot of American and non-European athletes need to understand that track and field is a big sport throughout Europe,” Gatlin explained.

“If it is more visible in Europe, then you will have more sponsors who are going to have the incentive to say, ‘I will put you in a watch, the cover of Vogue,’ so don’t just compartmentalize yourself to your continent, region, or country thinking that you have to get it only there.”

As the debate continues, the competition among Africa’s top sprinters is not only raising the profile of athletics on the continent but also providing a broader stage for its athletes to showcase their talents.

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