Ferdinand Omanyala faces biggest test yet in Rabat

Ferdinand Omanyala of Kenya

Ferdinand Omanyala of Kenya crosses the finish line to win men's 100 metres race during the fourth edition of Absa Kip Keino Classic at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on May 13, 2023. 

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • He faces  world 100m champ Kerley, former champ Blake, world under-20 champ Tebogo, and world bronze medallist Trayvon in Rabat

Reigning world 100 metres champion Fred Kerley from the United States of America,  2011 world champion Yohan Blake (Jamaica), world under-20 100m champion Letsile Tebogo from Botswana, 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Akani Simbine from South Africa,  2015 and 2022 World Championships 100m bronze medallist Bromell Trayvon (USA), and  home runner Machmour Chakir.

That is the quality of opposition that Africa 100m record holder and Commonwealth Games champion, Ferdinand Omanyala, faces when he lines up in Rabat Diamond League at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex in Morocco’s capital city on Sunday from 9pm (Kenyan time).

The field could have been made even stronger by the inclusion of reigning Olympics 100m champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Italy, but the athlete, withdrew from the competition on Thursday.

Omanyala, fresh from winning the 100m race in the Kip Keino Classic, the Kenyan leg of the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold held in Nairobi on May 13, is confident of victory.

In an interview with Nation Sport en route to Rabat on Thursday, Omanyala said he is determined to win the only Diamond League race in Africa.

“The race will be tough but I am determined to win it because it is happening in Africa. The Diamond League series is making a stop in Africa and that is even more motivation to win such an event,” said Omanyala.

He added the rich field will motivate him to even do better.

“It’s a rich field, and I normally do well under pressure. I hope the weather conditions will be favourable for a good race, and the fans turn out to catapult me to do better.

“Fans play a big role for me during competitions, and that was evident during Kip Keino Classic. Apart from that, I have a big team working behind the scenes and I must appreciate their good work by running well,” added Omanyala, who boats a world lead of 9.84sec from Kip Keino Classic held this month at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

World and Olympics 800m champion Emmanuel Korir will also start the season in Rabat where he faces, among others, his compatriot Wycliffe Kinyamal who is the Commonwealth Games champion, and former World Under-20 champion Emmanuel Wanyonyi.

Wanyonyi, who trains in Kapsabet, Nandi County under the 2Running Club, hopes to  continue his fine form since winning in Kip Keino Classic two weeks ago.

“I have trained well for the race and I hope to be on the podium as a winner. Everything should hopefully lead me to qualification for the World Athletics Championships in August,” said Wanyonyi.

They will be competing against Canada’s Marco Arop, Belgium’s Eliott Crestan, Morocco’s Abdelati El Guesse, France’s Benjamin Robert among others.

In the 1,500m race, Kenya’s Abel Kipsang and Charles Simotwo come up against a strong field which includes Ingebrigtsen brothers Jakob and Filip from Norway, Belgium’s Ismael Debjani, Oliver Hoare from Australia, France’s Julian Ranc among others.

The 800m Commonwealth Games champion Mary Moraa will headline the two-lap race where she faces Jamaica’s Natoya Goule, Slovakia’s Anita Horvat, Benin’s Noelie Yarigo, Asia Razziki from Morocco and Catriona Bisset from Australia.

In the men’s 3,000m steeplechase, Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto comes up against Olympic and World champion Soufiane El Bakkali from Morocco, Olympics bronze medallist Benjamin Kigen, former Commonwealth Games silver medallist Abraham Kibiwott, former World Under-20 champion Amos Serem, Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale, among others.