Moraa hoping to run sub 1:56 at Kip Keino Classic meet at Nyayo

Absa Bank Kenya Consumer Banking Director Moses Muthui presents a Sh40m sponsorship cheque for the Kip Keino Classic to the Athletics Kenya President General Jackson Tuwei (right). Looking on are 100m athlete Ferdinand Omanyala, State Department for Sports Principal Secretary Eng. Peter Tum (C), 800m athlete Mary Moraa and 400m hurdles athlete Wiseman Were at the Nyayo National Stadium set to host the championship on Saturday, April 20, 2024. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

World 800m champion Mary Moraa has warned her opponents to be prepared for a tough battle at the fifth edition of the Absa Kip Keino Classic Continental Tour on April 20 at the Nyayo National Stadium.

The Commonwealth Games champion has told her opponents to step up their game as she will be running on a new level as she seek to succcessfully defend her Kip Keino Classic title.

“I’m not out just to defend the title, I’m aiming to  clock a sub 1:56:00,” she told Standard Sports.

Moraa was speaking in Nairobi yesterday at a function where Absa Bank Kenya renewed its sponsorship deal for the World Athletics Gold Tour series event to a tune of Sh40 million.

“I’m urging Kenyans to turn up in large numbers to witness what will happen at the Nyayo Stadium. I believe it will be something really, really special, for me and for the whole nation,” the 400m African Games champion said.

“My target at the Kip Keino Classic is to retain with the 800m title, I don’t want this trophy to go outside the country,” she said.

Moraa is glad that her build up training ahead of the Kip Keino Classic has been ongoing so well, with no injuries.

“So far I can’t complain, I’m focused, mentally I’m prepared for it, I will use the race to gauge my body ahead of the World Relays in Bahamas and the Paris 2024 Olympics,” she said.

Moraa has taken part in all the Kip Keino Classic editions, emerging second in the 400m in 2021, clinching gold in 800m in both 2021 and 2023 and bagging silver in 800m behind Prudence Sekgodiso of South Africa in 2022. While renewing their sponsorship for this year’s championship, Absa Bank Kenya said Sh30 million will cater for the event’s logistics while Sh10 million will go towards media and publicity, as well as supporting other events in the Athletics Kenya (AK) calendar, including the Under-20 youth engagement and the national trials series.

“As Absa Bank Kenya we are very proud to be part of this journey of nurturing stars through the Kip Keino Classic. This championship provides a great opportunity for Kenyans to not only watch foreign stars in Kenya but to also celebrate our very own homegrown talent whose stories continue to inspire our commitment to this sport as we support and empower them in line with our purpose of empowering Africa’s tomorrow together, one story at a time. Their stories indeed matter,” Absa Bank Kenya Consumer Banking Director Moses Muthui said.

Race Director Barnaba Korir thanked the bank for the sound financial support while at the same time assuring that this year’s championship will be bigger and better from the list of athletes who have confirmed their participation.

On his part, Ak President General Jackson Tuwei expressed his delight and gratitude to the bank and other sponsors for working round the clock to ensure that this year’s event becomes a success.

“We are thrilled and grateful to partner with Absa Bank Kenya for the Kip Keino Classic. Their support through the years has enabled us to host a world-class event that puts us at an admirable spot in the global arena, and with this, we are assured of a great event on April 20 as we cheer our champions and as we inspire the next generation of athletes. I call on Kenyans to come out in large numbers at the Nyayo National Stadium to support our national stars,” Tuwei said.

The championship will feature a diverse range of events from sprints, to hammer throws, promising to give Kenyans a first-hand thrilling experience of what happens on the global stage.

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