Sat, 23 Oct 2021

NAIROBI, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- The 1,500m altitude of Kenya's capital Nairobi might be the last place anyone would expect the fastest men's 100m time of the year to be run. Few would also identify the metropolitan city as the ideal place - especially on an overcast afternoon - for two athletes to storm into athletics' blue riband race's all-time top ten.

On Saturday, American Trayvon Bromell and Kenyan sprint sensation Ferdinand Omanyala defied logic and conventional wisdom when they trailed each other across the line in a world-leading 9.76 seconds and an African record of 9.77s.

Such was their surge from the rest of the competition that 2004 Olympic and double world champion Justin Gatlin, 39, led the rest home in 10.03s to round off the podium.

This staggering race crowned the 2021 ABSA Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi, the last World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting of the season.

Having missed out on the Tokyo 2020 final, Bromell shot up to joint-sixth of all time in the men's 100m, with Omanyala now tied eighth. "I may not have grabbed the gold in Tokyo, but given where I came from, I feel I have already won," Bromell posted on social media after the race.

Omanyala trended on social media in Kenya after lowering the African record from the 9.84-second run by South Africa's Akani Simbine earlier this year.

The 25-year-old closed what has been a stellar campaign for the former rugby player, who became the country's first runner to feature in an Olympic final.

His ascendancy as a sprint king in a country more famed for distance running has earned him over 11,200 followers on Twitter over the last few months, following a staggering season that saw him become the first Kenyan to dip under 10 seconds.

Kenyans took to social media to hail his latest performance that many believe will place the East African nation firmly on the world sprinting map.

In other highlights of the stacked meet, Kenya's two-time Olympic women's 1,500m champion Faith Kipyegon also closed out the season in style with a storming 4:02.05 victory. It capped a year that saw her hold on to her title at Tokyo 2020 and add the Diamond League crown in emphatic fashion.

Another American Fred Kerley became the first man to run a sub-20s on Kenyan soil when he won the men's 200m in a personal best of 19.76. The Tokyo 2020 100m silver medalist made a late decision to switch to the longer dash on the eve of the Kip Keino Classic.

Namibian starlet Christine Mboma trumped the competition in the corresponding women's 200m showdown, stopping the timer at 22.39 for yet another victory.

Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Cote d'Ivoire improved from fourth at Tokyo 2020 to silver here after following Mboma home in 22.98.

Morocco's Tokyo 2020 winner Soufiane El Bakkali hushed the home crowd when he won the men's 3,000m steeplechase final in 8:21.20.

Bakkali ended Kenya's hold on the Olympic steeplechase title they had held for nine successive Games in Tokyo, but lost the Diamond League crown to home runner Benjamin Kigen who came sixth on Saturday.

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