It was a day that started with huge expectations. And it did not disappoint as the clash between the world’s track and field big shots lived up to its billing.
Africa 100m record holder Ferdinand Omanyala, Commonwealth Games 800m champion Mary Moraa and America’s sprinter Sha’carri Richardson whet Kenyan fans' appetite with jaw-dropping wins at the fourth Kip Keino Classic meet, the World Athletics Continental Tour, inside Kasarani Stadium yesterday.
The trio wowed a thunderous crowd –among them President William Ruto, opposition leader Raila Odinga and Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba –who attended the one-day global meet.
Omanyala blasted to victory in 9.84 seconds ahead of Olympic silver medallist Kenneth Bednarek of USA and Olympic 4x100m silver medalist Jerome Blake of Canada.
Emmanuel Wanyonyi, the 2021 World Under 20 800m champion, slapped a brilliant 1:42.32 to win the men’s 800m contest.
Two-time Commonwealth Games champion Wycliffe Kinyamal (1:46.36) and Olympic 1500m silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot came third in 1:44.99.
Wanyonyi said he was motivated for the win by a bet he had made with his coach before the race.
“My coach promised to reward me if I would run a meeting record and he must be happy now,” Wanyonyi said.
Canada’s Aaron Brown also produced a powerful surge in the last 50m to win the men’s 200m race.
The 4x100m relay champion clocked 20.12 in first place, ahead of United States’ Kyree King who timed a season best of 20.18 as Liberia’s Joseph Fanbulleh who came third in 20.19.
Brown, making his second appearance at this World Continental Tour Gold event, appreciated Kenyans for their unrivalled passion for athletics and welcoming hearts.
Belgium’s javelin thrower Timothy Herman set a meet record of 87.35 metres ahead of two-time world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada, who hurled 85.72 metres on his first-ever appearance at the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold event.
Egyptian Ihad Abdelramah, winner of last year’s edition, finished third with a throw of 81.04 metres.
South Africa’s Douw Smit finished fourth with a throw of 78.83 metres as 2016 Olympic silver medalist Julius Yego (77.24m) came fifth.
"The Kenyan people are crazy and I'm impressed and I will definitely come back to Kenya next year.
"I didn't expect to win here today but I'm excited and this was due to good preparations,” he said.
It was Herman’s second appearance at the Kip Keino Classic from the second edition in 2021 where he threw 77.73 metres to finish third.
Amos Kirui, the 2018 Commonwealth Games 3000m steeplechase bronze medallist, chalked up the water and barriers race win in 8:08.45 ahead of two-time Commonwealth Games champion Abraham Kibiwott (8:09.71) and Leonard Bett (8:10.02).
Kirui said: “It was amazing running before the home crowd and they really motivated me to win today. I'm looking forward to a better season this year."
Commonwealth Games silver medallist Daniel Simiu Ebenyo strolled to victory in the 10,000m race in 28:09.93.
Ebenyo shrugged off strong opposition in the second last lap to open a 500m gap.
"Winning today is just an indication of a good season and I'm happy that I have started well. "My plan is to make sure I'm in the finals at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary because that's the climax of the track season,” he said.
Edwin Kipkemoi (28:30.05) and Stanley Njihia (28:30.61) followed.
Wiseman Were won the men's 400m hurdles with a meet record of 49.59 seconds.
Were, the Commonwealth Games 4x400m bronze medalist, said: "Winning at home is such a good thing. I have already qualified for the World Championships but I just need to improve my tactics so as to represent Kenya well in Budapest."
Kipkorir Rotich returned second in a personal best of 50.37 as Edward Ngunjiri (50.70) sealed the top three spots.
World U20 champion Reynold Kipkorir showed little respect for the established athletes as he won the men's 1500m in 3:32.70.
Ethiopia’s Lemi Teddese pulled a fast one on Kenyans, sneaking away with the men's 5000m title in 13:26.58 ahead of Kenya's Ishmael Rokitto (13:27.34) and Uganda's Peter Maru(13:28.14).
Taddese said the win inspires him in the run up to the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary that run on August 19-27.