Kenya’s Wanyonyi Achieves Third Fastest 800m Race Ever; Kipyegon, Omanyala Shine


World Athletics Championships silver medalist Emmanuel Wanyonyi dropped the third fastest men’s 800m performance in history to storm to the Paris 2024 Olympics as the two-day Kenyan track and field trials wrapped up on a sensational day here on Saturday.

Wanyonyi, 19, motored around the Nyayo National Stadium track to stop the clock at a staggering one minute and 41.70 seconds, the fastest time run since countryman David Rudisha, who was watching from the stands, set the 1:40.91 world record in the final of the London 2012 Olympics.

The teenager now trails Rudisha and former world record holder, Kenyan-born Dane Wilson Kipketer (1:41.11) in the all-time list as he underlined his credentials on the way to his first Olympics in Paris.

His barnstorming performance was all and more jaw-dropping considering he was only reinstated to Saturday’s final on appeal after being tripped with 50m to go in Friday’s semifinals where he slumped to a sixth finish.

“Today’s performance was redemption after being tripped on Friday. My leg is still a bit swollen. Everything happens for a reason. If I had been tripped today, I might have missed the Olympics,” Wanyonyi told reporters after the race.

Italian coach Claudio Berardelli said Wanyonyi is a generational talent like Rudisha or Kipyegon.

“We knew he had it in him but we were not expecting a 1:41. Nobody expected Rudisha to run a world record in the Olympics final in 2012, so sometimes, gifted athletes produce performances that are beyond explanation,” a delighted Berardelli said.

“It was good to watch him run that fast at this particular time of the year. We have never seen that on Kenyan soil, in 2012 I also ran from the front and only managed 1:42. We are quite sure Wanyonyi will do something [in Paris],” two-time Olympic champion Rudisha said of the new men’s 800m sheriff in town.

Two-time Commonwealth champion, Wycliffe Kinyamal followed Wanyonyi home in 1:42.50, the third quickest time at high altitude to book his automatic Olympic ticket with Koitatoi Kidali rounding off the podium in a brisk 1:42.66.

Wanyonyi grabbed the headlines at a high-stacked meet that also saw two-time Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon and African record holder Ferdinand Omanyala blast to world leads.

Barely 24 hours after winning the women’s 5,000m final in a blistering 14:46.28, Kipyegon returned to Nyayo Stadium and went on to demolish the women’s 1,500m field in 3:53.99, the fastest ever run at high altitude and a world lead.

“I had not raced due to an injury but I thank God because I ran an incredible race today.

“I can declare that I’m going to double after this win because I have gained more confidence and I’m doing well. I’m ready to go and represent Kenya in the 1,500m and 5,000m,” the four-time world champion who is aiming for the unprecedented Olympics 1,500m and 5,000m gold said.

Nelly Chepchirchir grabbed the other automatic Olympic ticket in the women’s 1,500m when she ran 3:58.46 for second as US-based Susan Ejore rounded off the podium with 4:00.22.

Commonwealth and African sprint champion Omanyala was the other athlete who impressed in punching his ticket to his second Olympics, racing off the blocks to the finish unchallenged in a world-leading 9.79.

The Tokyo 2020 finalist was peerless through the Kenya trials and is now looking forward to making the finals at the second time of asking.

“This should be a warning to so many sprinters right now because when I peak, I peak so well.

“I am happy that it is coming at this time, less than a month and a half to the Olympics, that’s our target,” the 9.77 African record holder underscored.

Mark Otieno ran 10.12 to finish behind him and although he has the second Kenyan Olympic slot, he still needs to dip under the 10.10 standard to confirm his ticket to Paris and he has the chance at the forthcoming African Championships in Cameroon.

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