Wanyonyi, the former herdsboy, dreams of glory in Kip Keino Classic

Emmanuel Wanyonyi

Kenya's Emmanuel Wanyonyi holds the trophy after winning the men's 800m during the 2023 Prefontaine Classic and Wanda Diamond League final at Hayward Field on September 17, 2023 in Eugene, Oregon. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Last year, Wanyonyi won the two-lap race in a world-leading and meeting record time.
  • World 800m silver said he never expected to clock a world-leading time at last year’s event.

World 800 metres silver medallist, Emmanuel Wanyonyi, has set his sights on defending his title in the fifth edition of the Absa Kip Keino Classic on April 20 at Nyayo National Stadium.

Kip Keino Classic, which is making its return to Nyayo Stadium after four years, is the only Continental Gold Tour event in Africa.

Last year, Wanyonyi, 19, triumphed in the two-lap race in a world-leading and meeting record time of 1:43.32 ahead of his compatriots Wycliffe Kinyamal, who clocked 1:43.66, and Timothy Cheruiyot, who crossed the line in 1:44.99.

In an interview with Nation.Africa on Friday, Wanyonyi, who trains under the 2Running Club in Kapsabet, Nandi County, said he hopes to run a new personal best time in front of home fans.

He currently has a personal best time of 1:42.80, also a national Under-20 record, that he clocked at the Prefontaine Classic, Hayward Field, Eugene, Oregon, last year.

“The season has just started and as an athlete being the first race, I just want to see how I will run because I’m still at the loading stage in terms of training and meeting my compatriots and others from different countries will now shape my training going forward,” said Wanyonyi.

He added that he never expected to clock a world-leading time at last year’s event.

The former World Under-20 800m champion ended last season in style, winning the Diamond League Trophy after settling for silver at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

He has had a remarkable journey from being a herdsboy in Kitale, Trans Nzoia, to becoming a junior world champion.

And now, he dreams of becoming an Olympic champion this year in Paris.

But first things first, Wanyonyi has to make Team Kenya for the Paris Summer Games.

“I’m running at the Kip Keino Classic to see how it will go but the big fish that every athlete is eyeing is the Olympic Games," said Wanyonyi, who will celebrate his 20th birthday on August 1.

"But before then, I will compete in the Diamond League races as part of preparations for the Olympics. I believe I can make Team Kenya,” he added.

The Kip Keino Classic is one of the 11 Continental Gold Tour events in the world and the second this season after the Maurie Plant Meet held on February 15 in Australia.

The USATF Los Angeles Grand Prix in the USA on May 18 is next in line after the Kip Keino Classic.

Memorial Borisa Hanžekovića in Croatia will be the last Continental Gold Tour this season on September 8.