Anaso Jobodwana, Justin Gatlin and Akani Simbine. Photo Credit: Tobias Ginsberg

World 100m champion, Justin Gatlin and former South African 200m record holder and 2015 World Championship 200m bronze medalist, Anaso Jobodwana will come face-to-face for the third time in their careers at the second Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix Series Meeting at Tuks Athletics Stadium in Tshwane. 

The American is currently leading the head-to-head’s 2-0. The first time they met was at the Prefontaine Meeting in Eugene, Oregon on 30 May 2015. The two came face-to-face again in the 200m final at the World Championships in Beijing that year.

In Eugene, Gatlin raced away to a 19.68 secs win to the second place of Jobodwana, who clocked a then South African record of 20.04 secs. At the World Championships it was again the American who edged Jobodwana as they finished second and third respectively in 19.74 and 19.87 secs behind Usain Bolt.

Now they face off again. This time in Tshwane on Thursday, 8 March at the second Meeting of the Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix Series over the seldom run 150m.

For Jobodwana this will be the seventh race of 2018, while for Gatlin it will be his first of the season. Jobodwana has yet to lose a race this season and is coming back into the form that saw him run under 20 secs for the 200m at the 2015 World Championships.

The 150m promises to be a showdown of epic proportions and Jobodwana is itching to line up against Gatlin.

“I want to beat him before he retires. He has about two more years before he hangs up his spikes, so I need to beat him sooner rather than later. I have huge respect for Gatlin, he is not a world champion for nothing. But this is my home and this would be a great opportunity to get a win over him,” said Jobodwana, who has been training at Tuks for the past three weeks.

Gatlin too has immense respect for South African sprinters and is expecting a tough battle against Jobodwana. “It’s really great what is happening in South African sprints right now and I have massive respect for Wayde (van Niekerk), Akani (Simbine) and Anaso (Jobodwana).

"I know Anaso comes through strongly in the end, I saw that at the World’s in 2015 where he came flying through in the final 50m. So I know it will be a tough race on Thursday, especially as he will be in front of his home crowd and I can expect him to put on a good show.”

Gatlin and Jobodwana will also have Gatlin’s training partner, Trentavis Friday and former SA 100m Record Holder, Simon Magakwe to contend with.

Friday has been in-country for a week now and would have been able to deal with the effects of jetlag to a large degree. Magakwe is fresh from his 100m win over Henricho Bruintjies at the first Meeting in Roodepoort last week Thursday.

Simbine opens 2018 in the 100m

South Africa’s 100m SA Record Holder, Akani Simbine will also be in the line-up. Simbine will be racing the 100m.

South Africans are used to seeing Simbine open with a sub-10 secs time and will be hoping to see that again, especially as he is racing on his favourite track, Tuks where he has set three of his 15 sub 10 secs times to date.

“I’m excited for my first race. I love this track, I will be racing in front of my home crowd (Simbine has actively been campaigning to get as many supporters into the stadium as possible), so I think this could be a good race,” the 24-year-old said.

“It is the start of a long season and it is always good to lay down a good marker on your first race. It makes a statement.”

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