Three words –history, hope and confidence –clearly describe the third edition of Kip Keino Classic meet, the World Athletics Continental Tour, staged at Kasarani Stadium on Saturday.
Huge ambitions, upsets and redemption provided some exciting talking points at the showpiece that yielded seven world leading times and championship records.
Three fastest athletes on the planet in three-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, Africa 100m record holder Ferdinand Omanyala and America’s Olympic 100m silver medallist Fred Kelly stood out as the day’s show-stoppers.
Fraser-Pryce fired an early warning shot with a thunderous run that wowed a host of dignitaries among them President Uhuru Kenyatta, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and World Athletics top brass inside Kenya’s biggest sporting cathedral.
She posted a brilliant world leading time of 10.67 seconds in an electrifying atmosphere.
It was an afternoon that produced a sizeable number of world leading, personal, season bests and championship records in track and field events.
With her imposing wide smile and flashes of milky teeth, the 35-year-old Fraser-Pryce unleashed one of the best 100m performances on Africa soil.
She blasted off the blocks with an electric pace in what left her against the clock to make intentions clear to gun for 11th world title at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, USA, on July 15-25.
“I’m grateful for the welcome I have received here, and the crowd was amazing. I promised a good race and winning here today gives me a lot of confidence for the season.
“To come here and run a fast time in front of all these cheering people is great,” the delighted four-time Olympic and 10-time world champion said.
A similar script emerged when a confident Omanyala, semi-finalist at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games scorched the sky blue tartan track to set a world leading time of 9.85 seconds, beating Olympics 100m silver medallist Kerley, who checked in second in 9.92 seconds. Aaron Brown won the 200m.
He said: “I wanted to run a sub-20. I am happy with the time I have posted considering this is a high altitude. In the meantime, before I leave for Doha I intend to go on a Safari and enjoy the Kenyan hospitality.”
There was the drama of the false start in the 100m men which officials later put in to equipment error.
As expected, Kenyans raised hopes as they dominated the middle and long distance events, with world Under-20 champion Emmanuel Wanyonyi continuing his rise to prominence when he took the top honours in the men 800m in 1:45.01.
Ugandan women’s 3,000m steeplechase Olympic champion, Peruth Chemutai was relegated to the bronze medal in 9:20.07 with Kenya-born Kazakhstani, Norah Jeruto, a former African champion, winning the race in 9:04.95 ahead of Kenya’s Faith Cherotich 9:12.04.
“This was my first race of the season and I am happy with the performance. It’s still early and I have a lot of training to do before the World Championships,” Chemutai said.
Kenya’s performances in the race remains under threat ahead of Commonwealth Games and the World Championships.
Julius Yego, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist, sought redemption as he finished in second place in javelin.
Despite failing to hit the World Championships qualifying mark of 85.0m, Yego managed 79.59m behind Ihab Abdelrahman (83.79m), the Egyptian national record holder.