NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 3- Kenyan sprinters have their eyes set on reaching the semi-finals when the IAAF World Championships start in London, United Kingdom on Friday.
National record holder Mark Otieno will double up in the 100m and 200m and will be on the track on Friday at 10:20pm for the 100m heats.
Ranked 38th overall with his personal best of 10.14 set during the National Championships in Nairobi, Otieno is beaming with confidence that he can battle out stiff competition from Jamaicans and Americans as he eyes to mark his first ever World Championship in style.
“I really feel great to get this chance because my initial goal was to get into the 100m. Being listed for the 200m was a plus and now that I am doubling, it is twice exciting for me. Of course it is tough because there are a lot of great sprinters out there but I am ready for the challenge,” Otieno noted.
“My target is at least to get to the finals. I will strive to do that straight from the heats and push myself. Also, by the end of the championships, I want to push my time to go into the top 10 in the world and God willing I can achieve that,” he added.
Otieno hopes he can learn a lot from top sprinters in the world with the likes of Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin, Yohan Blake and South African Akani Simbine being among the top names in London. Canadian Andre de Grasse seen by many as ‘the next Usain Bolt’ has been ruled out with injury.
Meanwhile, former Kenya Sevens star Collins Omae is gearing up to make his World Championships bow when he lines up for the 400m on Saturday.
The 27-year old has a Personal Best time of 45.19 and is ranked 19th among the sprinters present in London. His target, just like Otieno’s is to push way into the semi-finals.
“The target is to get off the heats. It’s my first world individual event and I am definitely excited. When I get into the semi-finals I will talk to my coach and if I feel that my body is okay and I can push all the way to the final, then yes, I will try. That will be a bonus for us,” Omae noted.
He says he is not afraid of the competition expected especially from his fellow Africans, world record holder Wayde van Niekerk (South Africa) and Botswana’s Isaac Makwala as well as United States’ Leshawn Merrit. Both Makwala and van Niekerk have run under 43 seconds this season.
“I don’t have fear of anyone. I think for me, it is a challenge if someone beats me. It will push me to try and train harder and in the long run beat them and probably be better than them,” the sprinter asserted.
Omae has heaped praise on his personal trainer Geoffrey Kimani who convinced him to switch to athletics while he was the Shujaa Strength and Conditioning coach. He admits that at first he didn’t believe he would make out such a fine sprinter but is quick to add he doesn’t regret.
“The transition has been perfect thanks to the coach. We started off in the 200m to get the foundation to build up and now it’s becoming much easier. I am learning how to run the race in terms of distribution of energy. I believe I am getting better and with time I will master the race and run well,” Omae disclosed.
He will be joined in the team by Boniface Mweresa who was a late qualifier as well as Raymond Kibett.
Mweresa and Omae raced together during the IAAF World relays earlier in the year in Bahamas where they won the B final having finished 11th overall in the heats.