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El Bakkali can’t wait to race as he jets in for Kip Keino Classic

ATHLETICS By Stephen Rutto | September 12th 2021
Kenya's Conseslus Kipruto (R) celebrates as he beats Morocco's Soufiane Elbakkali to the finish in the final of the men's 3,000m steeplechase athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO

Expect a scintillating show on Saturday as Nairobi prepares to host some the world’s top athletes in the second edition of Kip Keino Classic Continental Tour at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani.

This week, a galaxy of athletics stars from across the world will be jetting into the country for the epic clash. Yesterday, Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco - the man who ended Kenya’s dominance in the 3000m steeplechase at the Tokyo Olympics, arrived in Nairobi for Continental Tour.

The Moroccan heaped praise on Kenya as the home of steeplechase saying he can’t wait to race at Kasarani Stadium.

“I am so happy to be here because Kenya has been traditionally the home of steeplechase.

“When I received an invitation from Barnaba Korir (meet director), I immediately took up the opportunity,” Bakkali said upon.

Bakkali feels the second edition of Kip Keino Classic which will be his last race of the year offers him a chance for him to enjoy himself against a wounded Kenyan contingent after losing the steeplechase Olympic crown at Tokyo Olympic Games for the first time in 53 years.

“This meeting is the perfect way to close out the year. I am simply looking forward to race here and come up against other Kenyan runners who are really wonderful in their own way,” he said.

The Olympic champion will be making debut in Kip Keino Classic, and he will be squaring it out with the newly crowned Diamond League trophy winner and Olympic Bronze medallist Benjamin Kigen.

Kigen beat El Bakkali in Thursday night Zurich Diamond League finals and the Kip Keino Classic presents another opportunity for the duo to confirm who is boss in the water and barrier race.

But away from Kigen and El Bakkali duel, there is also Amos Serem; the newly crowned World Under-20 champion, who is in top form and ready to upset the seniors in Nairobi.

“I am ready for the Continental Tour. I have prepared well after competing at the World Under-20 championships last month. I expect a tough competition and that is why I have to prepare well,” Serem said.

Serem defeated Ethiopian Tadese Takele at the World Under-20 championships and has been training in Kaptagat under Coach Patrick Sang, who also coaches marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge.

The Kip Keino Classic event will be the 12th and final leg of the 2021 Continental Tour Gold series.

Uganda’s 3000m steeplechase Olympic champion Peruth Chemutai who finished sixth in Nairobi last year will be in Nairobi to make another statement.

Faith Chepng’etich who also clinched the 1500m Diamond League trophy will be lighting up the final event of the Continental Tour as well as Olympic 800m silver medallist Ferguson Rotich.

National 100m record holder Ferdinand Omanyala, will face off with the 2017 world 100m champion USA’s Justin Gatlin and Trayvon Bromell.

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