Kenyan stars impress at Kip Keino Classic

Mary Moraa celebrates winning the 800m race during the Absa Kip Keino Classic -World Continental Tour Gold Nairobi 2024 at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi on April 20, 2024. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Meeting records fell as global stars faced off at the 2024 Absa Kip Keino Classic Continental Tour at the Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi on Saturday.

The hosts oozed class in some of the country’s staple events such as the men’s 3,000m steeplechase as well as 800m.

World 800m champion Mary Moraa danced once again as she set a meeting record of 1:57.96 in the women’s two-lap contest.

Moraa led Nelly Chepchirchir and Vivian Kiprotich to a 1-2-3 podium dominance at the fifth edition of the meet.

“It was a good race and that means good preparations for the Paris Olympics. Being my first 800m race this season, I feel I am in a better shape to lower my time 1:55,” Moraa said after entertaining the home fans that filled Nyayo Stadium.

In the men’s 3,000m steeplechase, Commonwealth champion Abraham Kibiwott stamped authority – leading Kenyan top guns to a clean podium sweep, to the wild cheers of home fans.

Kibiwott, a world bronze medallist successfully defended his 2023 title and claimed his third Kip Keino Classic Continental Tour win.

He out-sprinted former World Under-20 3,000m steeplechase champion Amos Serem in the last 200m to chalk up a hard-fought victory in 8:20.54.

“I am glad that I retained my Kip Keino Classic title. I will intensify my training ahead of the Paris Olympics with an eye on helping the country regain its lost glory in 1500m,” Kibiwott said after the win.

Serem came in second in a time of 8:21.40 while Matthew Kosgei clocked 8:23.84 to close the podium.

“It is encouraging that we took the top three positions. We confirmed that the 3000m steeplechase is a Kenyan race,” said Serem.

In the middle and long distance races, athletes launched their campaigns to claim slots for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

World 800m silver medallist Emmanuel Wanyonyi did not disappoint in the men’s showdown.

Wanyonyi led Aaron Cheminingwa and Olympic silver medallist Ferguson Rotich to another dominance.

Cheminingwa finished second in 1:44.10 followed by third-placed Cheruiyot (1:44.90).

“I want to maintain this form and maybe improve ahead of the Paris Olympics national trials,” Wanyonyi said.

The former World Under-20 champion cruised to an 800m 1:48.57 World Lead.

World Under-20 gold medallist Reynold Cheruiyot stylishly took the 1500m crown.

Cheruiyot timed 3:31.96, beating Brian Komen and Daniel Munguti who placed second and third in 3:32.29 and 3:33.71 respectively.

“I have been suffering from a cold in the last one week but I still managed to win the race. I will now continue preparing for the Diamond Leagues, starting with Eugene next month,” the winner said.

Mary Ekiru won the 1500m contest in 4:06.26, defeating Edinah Jebitok and Ethiopia’s Hawi Abera.

Kenyan women also impressed in the 1500m race.

Ethiopian athletes dictated proceedings in the 5000m race, claiming victories in both the men’s and women’s titles.

The men’s 5,000m race was won by Ethiopian Abdisa Fayisa whoc timed 13:34.77 as Kenyan stars Levy Kibet and Charles Rotich in 13:38.39 and 13:39.16 respectively.

World silver medallist Margaret Kipkemboi Chelimo said she was buoyed by her second place, and promised a brilliant show at the 2024 Olympic Games.

Africa’s fastest 100m sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala crossed the finishing mark fifth in a chilly and rainy evening in Nairobi. The race was won by USA’s Kenneth Bednarek in 9.91.

Omanyala said he had turned his sights on the upcoming World Relay Championships in the Bahamas.

“The races are humble at some point. We are approaching this season in a different way. We are building up the 100m as we go deep into the season,” he said.

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