On your marks, get set, go! Nairobi hosts Kip Keino Classic

The die is cast,  and some of the world’s finest athletes are set to battle it out for top honours in the fifth edition of Absa Kip Keino Classic on Saturday at the Nyayo National Stadium.

The menu looks sumptuous, steaming with Olympic, world, Commonwealth, Diamond League, continental and national champions drawn from 45 countries.

Perhaps the day’s highlight will be the last race on the cards, the men’s 100 metres competition that will go down at 5.54pm. The race pits Commonwealth Games and Africa 100m champion Ferdinand Omanyala against the 2020 Olympic and world 200m silver medallist Kenny Bednarek from the United States of America.

The women’s 800m looks attractive with the reigning world 800m champion Mary Moraa throwing the gauntlet at her rivals with a promise of a sub 1:56. The field includes the 2019 world 800m champion Halima Nakaayi from Uganda.

World 800m silver medallist Emmanuel Wanyonyi, the 2019 world 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot and 2020 Tokyo Olympic 800m silver medallist Ferguson Rotich will go head-to-head in the men’s 800m.

Olympic 200m silver medallist Christine Mboma is set to return after one year and eight months out, taking the blocks in women’s 100m.

This World Athletics Continental Gold Tour event also has world class field athletes.

Thomas Rohler, the 2016 Rio Olympic Games javelin champion from Germany, will start his season in Nairobi, a journey that will rekindle memories of his battle with Kenya’s Julius Yego in the 2026 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics hammer champion, Wojciech Nowicki, who is also the back-to-back Kip Keino Classic champion, hopes to seal a hat-trick of victories against fellow countryman, the five-time former world champion, Paweł Fajdek, who is also back to reclaim his title.

Nowicki and Fajdek will be up against the reigning world hammer throw champion, Canadian Ethan Katzberg, who finished second last year.

Three-time Olympic women’s hammer throw champion Anita Wlodarczyk from Poland is back to reclaim the title she lost to Janee’ Kassanavoid from the United States last year.

Kassanavoid, who won the Kip Keino Classic on her way to claiming silver at the world championships, is back looking to complete a double.

The day’s programme that has 22 events starts at 11am with triple jump.

The live broadcast will however start at 4pm with men’s hammer throw.

The men’s Core events are hammer throw, javelin, 100m, 200m and 800m while the women’s Core events are 100m, 400m hurdles, 800m, high jump and hammer throw.

Besides Omanyala, the 100m Africa record holder, and Bednarek, the field also has Ivorian Arthur Cisse, and former

Kenyan 100m national record holder and champion, Mark Otieno.

“I’m glad to be back and ready to take on the rest of the gang that includes Omanyala, and have some fun too,” said Bednarek, who finished second behind Omanyala in 2022 and 2023.

Bednarek, who has personal best 9.89, has competed in several race this year, including his 200m victory at the Miramar Invitation in Florida, United States, as well as finishing first and third in the men’s 400m at the UCF Knights Invite and Pepsi Florida Relays, respectively.

He won the 100m at Tom Jones Memorial, Percy Beard Track, Gainesville, Florodda in a season’s best 10.01.

“Last season was very low for me. I struggled to stay afloat, but this year I’m healthy. I have had a few races which I competed in pretty well,” said Bednarek, who finished fifth in 200m at the World Championships last year.

“Winning has always been my mission at the Kip Keino Classic and I hope I will be lucky this time round,” said Bednarek.

Omanyala, who has a personal best 9.77m, has not competed in 100m this season purposely racing in 400m and 200m as part of his season training. Will it be three in a row for him?


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