Omanyala eager to witness his progress as he prepares for Kip Keino Classic

Ferdinand Omanyala, Mary Moraa (center) and Wiseman Were. [Stafford Ondego,Standard]

Africa's fastest man Ferdinand Omanyala will be out for a third successive gold at the fifth edition of Absa Kip Keino Classic World Continental Tour Gold at Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday.

Even though the Commonwealth Games champion is not promising much in the expected cutthroat men's 100m by word of mouth, his action speaks volume.

His ongoing rigorous training at the same venue is a clear indication that he is going for the jugular.

He is a man on a mission to bag a three-peat gold medal in the category where he will lock horns with perennial rival Kenneth Bednarek of USA who he relegated to second spot at Kasarani Stadium last season.

"I have no major expectation but I'm excited because the new venue is a very fast track, I’m sure it will be a good run for me, I'm working hard to post faster times in the event," Omanyala told Standard Sports.

"The mission is to give my all, I will execute the best race I can, I want to know how far I have gone with my training in the new season," said Omanyala who is also part of the Kenyan relay team for the World Relays slated for Bahamas next month.

Is he afraid that the title he has commanded in the last two seasons might grow wings and fly to another nation this year, going by Bednarek's current blazing form?

"I know anything can happen on track, but I'm open minded. The mission will be to put my best foot forward and see how it turns out," he said.

Omanyala is also eager to witness his progress in the race this season as he started off the year with a new coach, translating into new tactics, and being given a run for his money by Bednarek will be such a highly welcomed challenge.

Omanyala clocked 9.77 to win his first medal at the Kip Keino Classic, a silver, in 2021 behind champion Trayvon Bromell of USA (9.76).

He rose to the occasion in 2022 to bag gold in 9.85, beating American great Fred Kerley to second and Bednarek to sixth.

Last year, Omanyala sealed his golden status in 9.84, beating Bednarek to second and Jerome Blake of Canada who placed a distant seventh.

Apart from Bednarek, Omanyala faces stiff challenges this year from other rivals including Arthur Cisse of Ivory Coast who won 200m silver in his debut at Kip Keino Classic in 2020.

Cisse is also a well-travelled sprinter who has featured at top international competitions including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, All Africa Games, African Championships and Islamic Solidarity Games. As far as winning medals are concerned, his trophy cabinet boasts the 4x100m relay gold (2015 All Africa Games); 100m silver (2018 African Championships); and 4x100m relay silver (2018 and 2016 African Championships).

Bednarek too has been in top form this year, finishing first in the men’s 200m at the Miramar Invitation in Florida, United States, as well as first and third in the men’s 400m at the UCF Knights Invite and Pepsi Florida Relays, respectively. 

It is worth noting that the Olympics 200m silver medalist has done his homework well and is ready to take on his Kenyan peers, especially Omanyala, in their home turf.

Mark Otieno will also be the other Kenyan in the race. The former national record holder for the men’s 100m has bounced back impressively from a two-year doping ban and continues to surge towards that which saw him clock a personal best of 10.05 in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Just like Omanyala, he will be fueled by a partisan home crowd that will be keen to see one of their own shine on home soil. Such vociferous support may just be the extra push Otieno needs to make the podium place.

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