What you need to know:
- Africa's three form male sprinters in 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Akani Simbine from South Africa, world under-20 100m champion Letsile Tebogo from Botswana, and Commonwealth Games champion Ferdinand Omanyala, are all entered in the men's 100m
- The American duo of Kerley and 2022 World Championships 100m bronze medallist Bromell Trayvon come into the race with identical personal bests of 9.76sec
- Unlike the athlete who just fell short of making the Tokyo Games final, their is an air around Omanyala today that says ' bring on anybody'
Rabat Diamond League goes down Sunday night and for African athletics buffs, there will be massive interest focused on the Moroccan capital city.
Why? It is the only Diamond League athletics meeting hosted on the African continent. Tonight, Rabat hosts second leg of the series which sits in the top tier of the World Athletics one-day meeting competitions.
Africa's three form male sprinters in 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Akani Simbine from South Africa, world under-20 100m champion Letsile Tebogo from Botswana, and Commonwealth Games champion Ferdinand Omanyala, are all entered in the men's 100m.
And if that is not enticing enough, this 100m race will also feature five other current sprinting heavyweights.
Two medallists at the distance from the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games - silver medallist Fred Kerley from the United States of America, and bronze medallist Andre de Grasse from Canada - will be on parade. Gold medallist Lamont Jacobs of Italy withdrew from the race on Thursday with injury.
The American duo of Kerley and 2022 World Championships 100m bronze medallist Bromell Trayvon come into the race with identical personal bests of 9.76sec.
The 2011 world champion Yohan Blake from Jamaica on the other hand comes in with an eye-catching 9.69sec, the fastest of the assembled field. However upon closer examination it will be noticed that this was set a few years ago.
At his prime, Blake, while nipping at the retired great Usain Bolt's heels, was an undisputed podium finisher, a championship performer.
It is more likely that Blake's past outcomes will define his legacy, as opposed to his present and future results. He is at 35, the old man of tonight's race, and Jamaica's sole representative. De Grasse will race out of lane eight. He will be sandwiched on the inside by Botswana's Tebogo and on his outside by home athlete Chakir Machmour.
The longest event on the night is the men's 3,000m steeplechase. Unless the Kenyans can pull a 'Rabat out of a hat," home boy Soufiane El Bakkali is expected to run away with it. El Bakkali is the reigning world and Olympic champion over the distance, a feat he achieved from last year's Eugene World's and the Tokyo Olympics, a year earlier.
At every Olympics and World Athletics Championships over the past 40 years at least, Kenya has without fail taken home the 3,000m steeplechase titles. This includes two clean podium sweeps at the Olympics (1992 in Barcelona and 2008 in Beijing).
No male African athlete has broken the dominance of both the Jamaicans and Americans over both 100m and 200m. Usain Bolt dominated both distances in three consecutive editions of the Olympic Games and the corresponding five editions of the World Athletics Championships.
He won no less than an unprecedented 12 gold medals from the 100m, 200m and relay races.
Such was the Jamaicans dominance, that during his careers peak, he wouid more often than not be chasing his own records, be they championships or world records.
For the global sporting world to first sit up and take notice between the three of them in tonight’s race,one wouid have to cross the line first.
Tebogo is 21, Simbine turns 30 later this year while Omanyala turned 27 in January. Simbine probably has the least chance. To his credit, he has made two consecutive Olympic 100m finals, coming fifth both times.
Tebogo, unlike Simbine and Omanyala, also runs the 200m.
Lanky like Bolt, his running style is silky smooth, with almost indiscernible generation of speed as he shifts gears. When his coaching development will be complete, over 200m, Tebogo shall become a global phenomenon. It is not inconceivable that he will in the next three years bring down Bolt’s 19.19 world record over 200m.
The 27-year-old Omanyala seems to be in the form of his life.A specialist 100m runner, Rabat holds three significant aspects for Omanyala.
First, he is unbeaten in the half dozen odd, international 100m races that he has run in 2023.
Two, Simbine has never had the better of him. As a matter of fact, Omanyala, has over the past two seasons taken away three titles from Simbine.
Commonwealth Games, African Championships and African record holder over 100m. Omanyala beat Jacobs over 60m indoors in Europe in February this year.
Omanyala heads to Rabat with a personal best of 9.77sec and a world lead of 9.84sec. He made short work of the field during Kipchoge Keino Classic on May 13 in Nairobi, winning in 9.84sec.
Unlike the athlete who just fell short of making the Tokyo Games final, their is an air around Omanyala today that says ' bring on anybody'.