Wiseman Were, Ekwam Zablon Book Olympic Spots as Omanyala Stumbles at Kip Keino Classic

A collage of Ekwam Zablon, Wiseman Were and Ferdinand Omanya.

The Kip Keino Classic, a stage for athletic prowess and Olympic aspirations, unfolded on a day of highs and lows at Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi, on Saturday, April 20.

Among the Kenyan athletes, Wiseman Were and Ekwam Zablon emerged as potential Paris Olympics contenders, while others grappled with mixed fortunes.

Were's staggering performance in the 400m hurdles, clocking 48:57 minutes, beat the Olympic qualifying time, and electrified the stadium. 

Meanwhile, Ekwam Zablon secured his Paris 2024 slot, finishing fourth in the men's 400m with a commendable time of 44.69 seconds.

However, it wasn't only Kenyan athletes who left their mark. Bayapo Ndori of Botswana shattered records with a blistering 44.10 seconds, setting a new meet record in the process. The USA's Deamon Bryce and Botswana's Leungo Scotch clinched second and third place respectively.

A picture of Abraham Kibiwot moments after winning the 3,000m steeple chase at Nyayo Stadium, April 20.
Athletics Kenya

Ekwam's performance particularly buoyed hopes as he gears up to lead Kenya's 4x400 relay team in the upcoming World Relays championship in the Bahamas.

In the women's arena, Mary Moraa, the reigning World 800m Champion, stamped her authority by clocking 1:57.96, setting a new meet record. 

Despite missing her personal best target, Moraa's victory over her rivals Vivian Kiprotich and Nelly Chirchir firmed up her dominance and her ambitious season ahead.

However, the men's 100m sprint brought unexpected twists. 

American Kenneth Bednarek stunned the crowd with a victory in 9.91 seconds, overshadowing Kenya's Ferdinand Omanyala, who settled for fifth place in the rain-soaked race. 

Emmanuel Wanyonyi, heralded as the reigning World Athletics Rising Stars winner, delivered an awe-inspiring performance at the Kip Keino Classic, seizing victory in the fiercely contested men's 800m event. 

Wanyonyi's exceptional talent was on full display as he surged ahead of seasoned competitors like Ferguson Rotich, crossing the finish line with a world-leading time of 1:43.57. His triumph not only secured victory but also affirmed his status as one of the brightest prospects in Kenyan athletics.

Hot on Wanyonyi's heels was Aaron Cheminingwa, who pushed himself to the limit, clinching second place with a personal best time of 1:44.10.

In the grueling men’s 3,000m steeplechase, Abraham Kibiwot once again asserted his dominance, clocking 8:20.56 to claim victory for the third consecutive time. Despite facing stiff competition, Kibiwot's relentless determination propelled him to yet another triumph on the track. 

Serem Amos and Matthew Kosgei displayed admirable resilience, battling through physical strain to secure silver and bronze medals respectively.

Reflecting on his remarkable achievement, Kibiwot expressed his unwavering ambition, stating, “I felt well. I now have a hat-trick in this meet. I’m ready for Doha Diamond League and the trials for the Paris Olympics. In all these, I’m fired up.” His determination to push the boundaries and compete on the global stage epitomizes the spirit of Kenyan athletics.

Meanwhile, in the men’s 1,500m, Reynold Cheruiyot led a Kenyan sweep, crossing the finish line with a commanding time of 3:31.96. Brian Komen and Daniel Munguti trailed closely behind, cementing Kenya's dominance in the middle-distance events.

In the women’s steeplechase, Stella Rutto emerged triumphant, clocking 9:39.57 as she crossed the line in a display of sheer determination and endurance. Leah Jeruto followed closely, securing second place with a time of 9:39.94, while Daisy Jepkemei completed the podium with a commendable performance, clinching the bronze medal with a time of 9:41.13.

As the dust settles on yet another exhilarating edition of the Kip Keino Classic, Athletics Kenya is set to announce who among the athletes on display on Saturday made the Olympics team. 

A picture of Mary Moraa moments after winning the 800m race at the Kip Keino Classic.
Athletics Kenya