Moment of reckoning for Omanyala as unsmiling Kerley waits in Rabat

ATHLETICS Moment of reckoning for Omanyala as unsmiling Kerley waits in Rabat

Abigael Wafula 15:30 - 28.05.2023

Sunday night test awaits the Kenyan just hours after declaring that he will not lose any 100m race this year.

Records will be expected to fall when arch-rivals and some of the world-class athletes clash in Rabat in the second Wanda Diamond League Meeting of the season on Sunday, May 28.

Over the men’s 100m, the world’s fastest man so far this season Ferdinand Omanyala will be seeking for a repeat of the Kip Keino Classic when he lines up against a strong field. He will be making a return to the Diamond League since the 2021 Brussels Meeting where he finished fourth.

He will be going head-to-head with world champion Fred Kerley who is also a powerhouse in his own right. Kerley is the second fastest this year after he posted 9.88 at the Seiko Grand Prix last weekend and he will also be looking for his own share of glory.

Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs may have withdrawn from the meeting but Rabat will still host a sprint showdown. The highly-contested sprint race has also attracted Trayvon Bromell, South Africa’s Akani Simbine, and Botswana’s youngster Letsile Tebogo.

Jamaica’s Yohan Blake will also be returning to competition and will be looking for a great start to his first 100m race of the season.

In the men’s 3000m Steeplechase, home talent Soufiane El Bakkali will hope to put on a show in his first 3000m steeplechase race since the Diamond League Final in Zurich last year but he is bound to face a stern test.

El Bakkali was among the five finalists for the Men’s World Athlete of the Year honour in 2022, a year in which he became world champion, won the Diamond League title and remained unbeaten.

One of his greatest challengers will be the two-time world 3000m SC champion Conseslus Kipruto who will be in the mix and will be returning to competition since last year’s World Championships in Oregon.

Kipruto will be looking to upset Bakkali after he outshined him during last year’s global event and stopped him from winning his third world title. He will enjoy the company of compatriots Abraham Kibiwot and Leonard Bett.

The men’s 1500m race might just see records being broken since it has assembled some of the greatest athletes from across the globe. Abel Kipsang will be looking for redemption when he clashes with reigning Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Yared Nuguse.

The race has also attracted Oliver Hoare, and Mario Garcia, who will also be looking for big wins when they step on the track.

Ingebrigtsen, who won world 5000m gold and 1500m silver in Oregon last year will be opening his outdoor season. However, USA’s Nuguse demonstrated his strong form with area indoor records in the 1500m, mile and 3000m earlier this year and will be looking to build on that outdoors as he races Ingebrigtsen in a 1500m final for the first time.

Kipsang, the world indoor bronze medallist who finished behind Ingebrigtsen in Belgrade last year has not had a great start to his season and will be looking to make amends as he takes on the strong field.

Another world and Olympic champion will be in action in the men’s 800m. Emmanuel Korir takes to the track along with his compatriots Wycliffe Kinyamal and Emmanuel Wanyonyi. The duo of Kinyamal and Wanyonyi have already raced and will be hoping to maintain the great form.

Korir will be opening his season at the event and will be hoping to shine as he gets ready for title defense in Budapest. Canada’s Marco Arop and Morocco’s Moad Zahafi will also be in action.

In the women’s 800m, reigning Diamond League champion Mary Moraa who has been in impeccable form will be taking on Australia’s world leader Catriona Bisset. Natoya Goule, Anita Horvat and Noelie Yarigo, who races her first 800m of the season after an indoor breakthrough will also be in the race.

There is no doubt that the dancing queen is definitely the one to watch when the highly contested race starts.