Olympics 200m silver medalist Kenny Bednarek was put down by a nagging injury most part of last season which hampered his performance on track.
One of his worst shows was finishing sixth in the third edition of Absa Kip Keino Classic at Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani last year.
The world silver medalist is back in Kenya, this time round to prove his mettle in the World Athletics Continental Tour event slated for the same venue this Saturday.
His target is not only to prove his naysayers wrong, but to beat the Africa’s fastest man and Kenya’s poster boy Ferdinand Omanyala who triumphed in the race last year.
“Victory in Kenya will mean a lot to me, I know it will be a very tough competition, beating Omanyala at home will be such a tall order,” he told Standard Sports.
Other top guns in the race are the world 4x100m relay champion Jerome Blake of Canada and the world 100m silver medalist Marvin Bracy of the United States of America.
Despite the expected cutthroat battle ahead, Bednarek says he has no excuse not to perform well in Kenya since his body is in great shape.
“I’m glad to be back, I was here last year, I had an injury, I was kind of rusty, but this year I’m coming in healthy. I’m excited to see what I can do in 100m,” he said.
“Victory in Nairobi would mean a lot to me. Right now, I am trying to progress on my block starting in the 100m. If I can make it and get in the zone, then that is going to be a plus although I know it is going to be a tough competition,” the American said.
Bednarek says he has been focusing on small details to improve his performance in the 100m and 200m categories.
“In 100m I have been working on my starts so I can hit top speed, in the 200m I have been perfecting my finishing kick in the last 50m.
“I’m just trying to put all things together. I know sooner or later we will be having a perfect race,” he said.
Bednarek believes his performance at the Kip Keino Classic will help him to identify some of the loop holes to cover ahead of the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary in August where he plans to double in both 100m and 200m. His aim in Budapest is to clinch gold that has been so elusive in his athletics career.
“It has been second place for me all the time, I’m tired of being Mr Silver. This year, I’m coming with a different mentality to beat the silver jinx.
“I’m aiming for gold in Budapest after coming so close to it in Tokyo (Olympics) and Oregon (World Championships), it will mean a lot to me to get it.”
Bednarek has declared his love for Kenya pledging to visit the country every season to take part in the Kip Keino Classic.
He noted that the people he has so far met in Kenya have been quite friendly and the atmosphere is wonderful.
“Food here is great, and so far our host has been very kind to us. I look forward to coming back,” he said.