South African and African 100m record holder Akani Simbine has become Laureus Sport for Good Foundation’s newest ambassador.
With this appointment, the explosive sprint star and Olympian joins a long and illustrious list of sporting icons already in the Laureus family, including Wayde van Niekerk, Bryan Habana, Cheslin Kolbe, Babalwa Latsha and Cameron van der Burgh.
“I am really pleased to represent a global organisation which does as much as the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation does to develop and sustain the foundational roots of some of our most important values,” said Simbine of his appointment.
“I’ve always been proud to represent South Africa and Africa, and I hope to assist Laureus in using sport as a catalyst to help people grow and understand the importance of education in my home country and across the continent.”
Born in Kempton Park, the 28 year old sprinter first showed his athletic potential as a teenager when he shattered the national junior record in Lusaka in 2012, and broke the sub-10 second barrier for the first time that following season.
He broke the SA 100m record in 2016, followed by a fifth place in the Olympic 100m final in Rio. The next year he continued to make history when he became the first South African to shatter the sub-10 and sub-20 barriers on the same day, clocking 9.93 over 100m and 19.95 in the 200m event.
2018 saw Simbine cementing his world-class sprinting pedigree when he won both the Commonwealth Games and African 100m titles.
After his 2020 season was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, he remained laser focused on his 2021 campaign, and after leading the SA 4x100m team to victory at the World Relays in Chorzow, Simbine broke the long-standing African 100m record by clocking 9.84 in Szekesfehervar.
Simbine narrowly missed out on an Olympic medal in the men’s 100m final at the Tokyo Olympics in July when he fell short by 0.04 seconds. While reflecting on his disappointment after the race, Simbine also reiterated that this experience has given him the renewed motivation and drive to podium at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
But Simbine’s talents are not just limited to the sports field; the sprinter earned his Bachelor of Information Science degree in 2017 while making waves on the running track – a journey he admitted was challenging, but one he completed with determination and hard work.
“Akani exemplifies perseverance, triumph over adversity, and remaining focused on one’s goals, and we are excited to see him inspire kids – and aspiring young athletes – across the country,” said Morné du Plessis, Chairperson of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation South Africa.
“In addition to Akani Simbine’s sporting prowess as South Africa’s track and field star, it is his passion for developing the leaders of tomorrow through education that makes him such an asset as a Laureus ambassador, and we are thrilled to have him on board.”
Fostering Social Change Through Sport
Laureus Sport for Good South Africa funds, supports, and promotes the use of sport as a tool for social change.
The Foundation has a network of over 30 Sport for Social Change organisations in over 100 communities, using sport in innovative ways to tackle some of society’s most pressing challenges facing our youth, including poverty, homelessness, gangsterism, violence, drug abuse, discrimination and HIV/AIDS.
To support this mission, Laureus Ambassadors – a select group of current and retired sportsmen and women who have achieved sporting greatness, or made significant contributions to the sporting community over the course of their careers – volunteer their services and time to represent the Foundation at its various project activations and activities across the country.
Since its inception, Laureus SA has raised over R80 million for projects which have helped improve the lives of over 100,000 young people in South Africa. Through the strategic six-year country patronship between Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) and Laureus SA, the partnership has supported the Foundation’s goal of enhancing social impact in a bid to expand efforts and achieve the ambitious agenda of positive, sustainable change and influence, to enable the youth to become active economic participants in society.
“At Mercedes-Benz South Africa, we believe that lasting positive impact is possible through strategic partnerships. We are delighted to hear about our Friend of the Brand, Akani, being announced as a Laureus Ambassador. He will no doubt add value to Laureus and the projects in which they support”, said Selvin Govender, Marketing and Sales Director for Mercedes-Benz Cars.