‘Kisii Express’ too fast in Rabat
Sunday’s Rabat Diamond League came short of going according to the script after Kenya’s sensational 100 meters star Ferdinand Omanyala inexplicably lost his first race in the 2023 season.
However, it was not all gloom for Kenya as Omanyala’s compatriot Mary Moraa employed similarly effective finishing speed to win the women’s 800m in a season’s best of 1:58.72 from Australia’s Catriona Bisset (2:00.11).
Moraa clocked a time of 1:58.72 to win the race ahead of Catriona Bisset of Australia (2:00.11) while Sage Hurta-Klecker of the US completed the race in 2:00.62.
‘Kisii Express’, as Moraa is fondly referred to, will be seeking to add another feather to her cap in the Lausanne Diamond League pencilled for Switzerland on June 30.
Ahead of the meeting, Omanyala said he was in no mood to lose in his speciality and he did prove a statement when he lit up the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi on May 13 by coming second to none where he clocked 9.84 seconds.
“I don’t envisage a situation where I shall be vanquished by anyone over the distance this season. I have been training hard to stick to the benchmark,’’ Omanyala said on the eve of the Classic.
But the tide would change in Morocco when Omanyala finished third, and despite putting up a spirited performance, he failed to hit a sub-10 as the African champion finished with a time of 10.05 seconds.
World champion, Fred Kerley won the race, with former African champion, Akani Simbine coming second.
Kenya continued causing ripples when Emmanuel Wanyonyi, the 2021 World Under-20 champion, clocked 1:44.36 to win the men’s 800m. Wanyonyi said he was elated by the win although he conceded that the race was tough by all standards.
“I feel very happy about my performance and I must thank God for everything. For sure, it was not easy since I was up against a very determined field.
The competition served as an ideal dress rehearsal for me ahead of the World Championships in Budapest,” Wanyonyi said.
He further said that competing against fellow countryman Emmanuel Korir was also exciting and hailed him for giving him a tough race.
“Korir gave his all and that shows that he is taking such races seriously but there must be a winner and that happened to be me,” said Wanyonyi.
Wanyonyi was one of the highlights of the fourth edition of the Kip Keino Classic where he clocked a world lead and course record of 1:43.32 to win the men’s 800m.
In the meantime, World and Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali brought the Meeting to an exciting climax, winning the steeplechase in a personal best of 7:56.68. It was a world-leading mark and meeting record – feats that were also achieved by Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay, who won the 1500m in 3:54.03, and Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh, who won the high jump with 2.01m.
But El Bakkali’s steeplechase triumph was undoubtedly the performance that inspired the biggest response from the crowd.
-Additional Reporting by World Athletics