Wiseman Were itching for Absa Kip Keino Classic hat-trick

Wiseman Were

National 400m hurdles champion Wiseman Were trains at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani ahead of Budapest World Championships on August 01, 2023.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The 26-year-old seeking to seal his slot at Paris Olympic Games
  • The Paris Olympics qualifying standards in 400m hurdles is 48.70

The national 400m hurdles champion Wiseman Were will have something up his sleeves when he takes the blocks to defend his title at the Absa Kip Keino Classic title at the Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday.

“I have been working on something for some time now and expect a surprise on Saturday,” said Were, who is also the national 110m hurdles champion.

The 26-year-old Kenya Defence Forces champion noted that every athlete’s focus this year is to not only qualify for the Paris Olympic Games but also reach the podium with career best times.

“It’s my hope and prayer that all goes well and that the heavens will hold on Saturday. Nyayo is a fast track and good weather will produce good times,” said Were, the 2022 Africa 400mh bronze medallist.

Were said that his qualification for the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary last year gives him confidence and the feeling that he will soon meet the Paris Olympics qualifying standards.  

“Everything is working well and I love my speed and technique between the hurdles,” said Were, who won the men's 400m hurdles title at the 2022 and 2023 Kip Keino Classic. 

Last year, Were defended his national 400m title in a world championships qualifying time and personal best of 48.52 seconds at the Nyayo National Stadium. Were went on to reach the semi-finals in Budapest. 

“Anything is possible on Saturday and it’s my wish to improve my personal best again and qualify for the Paris Olympics,” said Were.  

The Paris Olympics qualifying standards in 400m hurdles is 48.70.

“I want to maintain the strides pattern and improve on my speed and techniques further,“ explained Were, who is eying his debut at the Olympics. 

Kenya didn’t have representatives in 400m hurdles at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but had a full team of three at the 2016 Rio Summers Games; Boniface Mucheru, who went on to claim silver, the 2015 world 400m hurdles champion, the late Nicholas Bett and his brother Aron Koech.

In fact, Mucheru is the only medallist from the Olympics in the 400m hurdles but Were is confident that the landscape can change with hard work and determination. 

Were will renew rivalry with teammate William Mbevi, who is a former 400m hurdles champion, Kipkorir Rotich, Edward Nginjiri and Peter Kithome among others.

Were clocked 49.59 to retain his Kip Kieno Classic title last year, beating  Rotich and Ngunjiri to second and third places in 50.37 and 50.70n respectively.  

Were was in the 4x400m team that competed at the world indoor championships in March in Glasgow, Scotland where they reached the final to settle fourth in an African record time of  3:06.71.     

He also made it to the African Games where he finished fourth in 400m hurdles and fifth in the 4x400m.