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Akani Simbine Sprints to Gold in Commonwealth Games

The South African runner beat out favorite, Jamaican Johan Blake, with his teammate Henricho Bruintjies taking the silver

If you were paying attention during the Rio Olympics in 2016, then Akani Simbine is a name that you know. He's the 22 year old South African who held his own against runners like Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin in the 100-meters, coming fifth place 0.01 seconds behind Johan Blake.

On Monday night, Simbine faced Blake again, and this time, he took gold. With a time of 10.03 seconds, Simbine crossed the finish line with one arm held up in victory. His fellow South African Henricho Bruintjies came in second at 10.17 seconds, just beating out Blake, who came third at 10.19 seconds.

"I came here wanting to be on the podium. I believed in myself, that I could get the gold medal," Simbine said.

Blake, who is tied with Tyson Gay as the second-fasted man in the world behind Usain Bolt, was heavily favored to win the race. In fact, Bolt joked earlier this week that Blake could not return to Jamaica unless he had the gold medal with him.


"I'm a bit disappointed because I've been feeling good, I've been running good and I just didn't put the start together," Blake said after the race, expressing his disappointment. "I was all over the place."

Simbine and Bruintjies' performance was a spectacular finish to an impressive day for South Africa, which won nine medals, bringing its total to 18. There was a gold rush at the pool in particular, as Chad Le Clos, Cameron van der Burgh and Tatjana Schoenmaker swam their way to victory.

This year's Games, called the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018), are the largest sporting event to be staged in Australia this decade. Over ten days, athletes from 71 nations and territories will compete in 18 sports and seven para-sports.

The conclusion of day five brings us to the halfway point of the Games, with South Africa as the only African nation in the top ten medal standings. Australia currently leads with 106 medals, with England's 63 medals in second, and India in third with 19 medals.

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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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