Fastest man in Kenya tries new challenge in Brussels tonight, so is Moraa
National 100m record holder Ferdinand Omanyala and Olympian Mary Moraa will be reaching a new milestone when they debut at the Diamond League in Brussels tonight.
To warm up for Brussels, Moraa romped to victory in the women’s 800m at the Palio Citta della Quercia, a World Athletics Continental Tour Silver meeting held on Tuesday night in Rovereto, Italy.
She crossed the finish line in 2:00.07. At Brussels she is hoping the debut will be one of many in her career.
The youngster who reached the semis in the women’s 800m in Tokyo, faces Tokyo Olympics 800m silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson from Britain among others.
“I can’t wait to race at the Diamond League. As an athlete, I have always wanted to line up in the Diamond League series and compete,” said Moraa ahead of her first appearance at the Diamond League at the Allianz Memorial Van Damme meeting where she line up in the women’s 800m race.
Omanyala on the other hand is in the provisional entry list of eight athletes, who are due to battle in the men’s 100m.
There will be familiarity in the sense that it is the same field that Omanyala faced on his debut at the Tokyo Olympics Games.
He will be up against Olympic silver medalist American Fred Kerley, who has also confirmed to participate at the KipKeino Classic continental tour gold meeting in Nairobi on September 18.
Akan Simbine from South Africa, Americans Trayvon Bromell and Michael Norman will also line up in the race.
Omanyala faced Kerley twice in Tokyo in the first round and the semi-finals.
Omanyala equaled his National Records time of 10.01 finishing third behind Canadian Andre De Grasse (9.91) and Kerley (9.97) in the first round as both qualified for the semis.
In the semis, Kerley won in 9.96, beating De Grasse (9.98) and Omanyala, who improved his National record by 0.01 with a time of 10.00.
Omanyala failed to advance to the final, but he had made history as the first Kenyan to reach the semis at the Olympics in the event.
He heads into Brussels oozing confidence following a series of inspiring wins in Australia and Finland.
Omanyala broke his own National Record twice, running 9.96 in the first round followed by 9.86 in the final at the International Josko Lauf Meeting at Pramtal Stadium, Andorra, Austria on August 14.
It was the first time a Kenyan ran sub 10 seconds. Then he moved to the Motonet Grand Prix at Lahti Stadium in Finland on August 19 and set a Stadium record time of 10.09 seconds in the final, having run the same time in the first heat
He then clocked 10.16 and 10.06 to win the first round and final respectively at Valkean Kaupungin Kisat meeting on August 22 at Raatin Stadium, Finland.
“It is a huge honour being the first Kenyan ever to run in the 100m at the Diamond League is the biggest joy this season,” said Omanyala.
He added: “I am going to Brussels to enjoy every bit of it and to show the world that Kenya can sprint. What I have learnt is that nothing is impossible in this world.”
Elsewhere, Olympic 5,000m silver medallist, Hellen Obiri, who is also the reigning World 5,000m champion, Margaret Chelimo, Lilian Kasait, Beatrice Chebet, Eva Cherono and Daisy Cherotich are the Kenyans who will compete in women’s 5,000m.
They will be up against Tokyo Olympic 10,000m silver medallist, Ethiopia’s Gidey Letensebet and fast-rising Francine Nyonsaba from Burundi.