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Omanyala floored in 100m as meeting records fall at Kip Keino Classic

Athletics
 Bednarek Kenneth celebartes winning the 100m 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]

American sprint sensation Kenneth Bednarek put up a spirited show to win the much anticipated men's 100m contest in 9.91 in the fifth edition of Absa Kip Keino Classic at Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday.

The Olympics 200m silver medallist beat a rich field composed of two-time defending champion Ferdinand Omanyala who shocked the nation with his fifth place finish in 10.03.

Emmanuel Matadi of Liberia (9.99), Jeremiah Azu- of Great Britain (10.00) and Ali Chituru- of Italy (10.01) cleared the cutthroat showpiece, that was run under very heavy downpour, in that order.

This is the first medal Bednarek is winning from his upmteeth times he has visited Kenya.

 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]

He was sixth in the category in 2022 which was won by Omanyala before the latter relegated him to silver last year.

"These races humble you 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, " stated a dejected Omanyala after the race.

"I don't want to pick too early in the season and then go down before August. We want to make sure that we correct everything before August. My target at the World Relay Championships in Bahamas is to make sure the 4x100m team goes to the Olympics."

On his part, Bednarek was glad to have lived up to his promise when he jetted into the country on Thursday, declaring that Omanyala will be in trouble this time round because of his (Bednarek's) amazing form that has seen the high spirited American win quality races back home.

 Wiseman Were celebrates winning the 400m 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]

In men's 400m hurdles, African bronze medallist Wiseman Were was over the moon after he clocked 48.57 to set a Meet Record.

The feat also saw him punch an Olympic ticket as he sealed a third successive title in the race.

“I am happy to have qualified for the Olympics. I had prepared well and it is going to help my preparations for the World Relay Championships,” Were underlined.

Just like Were, national sprint sensation Zablon Ekwam clocked 44.69 to book a ticket for the Paris Olympics in men's 400m, despite finishing fourth.

A new meet record was also set by Bayapo Ndori of Botswana in the race after the latter clocked 44.10 to win the category.

"I have been hunting for qualifying time since last year and I am happy that I have made it for the Olympics. The camps for sprinters have really helped in sharpening our skills and techniques. They helped us break the Africa 4x400m indoor record and as we head for the Bahamas, Miramas camp will be a big help in training. The Penn relays will also give us more exposure. I am happy that Were (Wiseman) has also qualified; it means the 4X400m team is in good hands," highlighted Ekwam.

 Spectators 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]

World 100m silver medallist Letsile Tebogo and American Courtney Lindsey produced a thrilling race for the books when they tied for first place in the men’s 200m, clocking 19.71 apiece.

The photo finish had the capacity crowd at the 30,000-seater Nyayo Stadium on their feet.

Tebogo, who won his first career medal on Kenyan soil at the 2021 World Under 20 Championships stated: “I have had fun competing today, I was absolutely under no pressure. I believe the fans have gotten the show they came for."

Luel Amalie of Norway did the unthinkable in women's 400m hurdles after, clocking 54.89 to set a new Meet Record.

Amalie is just coming from her maternity leave.

Another new champion emerged in the women's 100m category.

African champion Gina Mariam Bass Bittaye made Gambia proud by clocking 11.33 to lift the Kip Keino Classic title.

"My target for the season is to run 10. 9. But I'm just okay with this result as this is a high altitude area. I believe the time will come when I will reach the intended target, I'm aiming to be among the Olympics finalists this year," she stated.

All last year's podium finishers led by Terry Twanisha (winner from USA), Hobbs Zoe (silver medalist from New Zealand) and third placed Rosius Rani (Belgium) did not turn up for the showpiece this year.

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