Nairobi — African 100m record holder Ferdinand Omanyala will battle two Olympic medalists at the Kip Keino Classic next month after Athletics Kenya confirmed that 200m silver medal winner from Tokyo Fred Kerley and 100m silver medalist Kenny Bednarek have confirmed participation at the World Athletics Continental Gold Tour meet.
Last year, Omanyala came in second after clocking 9.77secs, a new African record, in a race won by Trayvon Bromell in a world lead 9.76secs.
The 2022 showpiece is scheduled for May 7 at the Kasarani Stadium.
“We are attracting the very top athletes in the world, and this goes to show just how high Kenya is placed as an athletics destination in the world. This year we expect a very competitive event and successful as well. We want to show the world that we can host big names here,” Athletics Kenya boss ,” said Athletics Kenya boss Lt. Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei.
Kerley, who last year became the first athlete to win the 100m and 400m races at the Diamond League, will be making a return to Nairobi having won the 200m event during the 2021 edition, clocking 19.76secs.
The three will be star attractions in the one-day meet, with Omanyala looking to carry the bragging rights on home soil, his eyes focused on lowering his record and running the fastest time ever on African soil.
Among the athletes who have confirmed their participation so far include Jamaican sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce alongside Olympic silver medalist Christine Mboma who starred at the World U20.
Hammer throw women and men’s champions Anita Włodarczyk and Wojciech Nowicki both from Poland. Nowicki will be making a return to Kenya after competing in last year’s event where he ranked second with a throw of 77.99m.
The men’s event will be a battle of Olympic podium finishers that will see Nowicki face off with Eivind Henriksen (silver medallist) and Paweł Fajdek (bronze medallist) who reigned supreme in last year’s event.
Also confirmed is Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion Peruth Chemutai of Uganda.
Meanwhile, Tuwei says the successful hosting of the Continental Gold Tour Meet, which will be in its third edition, will also offer Kenya a huge bargaining power to bid for hosting a leg of the Diamond League.
At the same time, Tuwei says this will further make Kenya’s case stronger as it bids to host the 2025 World Championships, having successfully hosted the U-18 and U20 showpieces in 2017 and 2021.
“In 2019 we approached the Government of Kenya to give us the go-ahead for a bid and we’re happy they accepted. At Doha 2019 we actually submitted the bid and in 2020 we received instructions on how to apply the second stage which was done via documentation,” Tuwei disclosed.
He added; “We’ll have World Athletics officials coming to assess the quality of our bid by confirming the things we noted in the documentation and thereafter they’ll make a report for the World Athletics Council.”
Meanwhile, meet director Barnaba Korir, also the Athletics Kenya head of youth development has said fans will be allowed into the stadium at full capacity.
The race was officially launched on Friday, with Absa Kenya presenting a sponsorship cheque of Sh23mn and they will also award each winner with a cash prize of Sh50,000.