American Olympic 100m silver medalist, Fred Kerley, is a man on a mission, with Saturday’s third edition of the Kip Keino Classic in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi the latest stop for the sprinter hailed as one of most consistent on the international circuit.
Kerley, 26, is a headline act in what on paper, has the potential to be the fastest men 100m ever on African soil with his advertised rematch with Tokyo 2020 champion, Italian Marcel Jacobs programmed to set the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani tartan track ablaze.
And he is not fazed by the challenge.
“I’m born ready for the competition, I love to compete and that is what I’m here for, to compete with the best.”
Add Kip Keino Classic champion and fellow American, Trayvon Bromell and Africa record holder and local favourite, Ferdinand Omanyala- the pair who ran 9.76 and 9.77 at the same stadium last fall- to the mix and a sprint classic is on the cards.
“I expect it should be a fast race and a fun race at the same time,” the sprinter who has won the complete set of World Championships gold, silver and bronze in his career projected.
Having blasted to a polished lifetime best of 19.76 in the punishing elevation of Nairobi on his way to winning the men 200m title at the 2021 Kip Keino Classic, the American returns to the event that he feels will be a springboard to “a very fast season” in the sprints.
“It’s wonderful to be back, I set my PB at the end of my season last year, it’s wonderful to be back where I ended my season last year,” he emphasised.
Kerley caused a minor stir at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport when he landed in the early hours of Wednesday morning in a testament of his growing fan base in this part of the world, something he relished as he happily posed for photos with the adoring public.
The Doha 2019 Worlds relay gold medallist further welcomed the news that thousands of fans will be allowed to witness the 2022 Kip Keino Classic unfold on Saturday with restrictions placed for the previous two editions due to the global pandemic relaxed by the Kenyan government.
It is this kind of energy he believes will drive him to accomplish his cherished dream this season- turning silver to gold at the Oregon 2022 World Championships in his native America.
“It would mean a lot. The first time the World Championships will be on home soil, so Americans we really get to travel so much but this time we shall be on home ground.
“I’m sure I’m going to turn it (silver at Tokyo 2020) to gold.”
Recently described by none other than the great retired American sprint king Carl Lewis as the man who ran “the most consistent and best of anyone last year” Kerley remained coy on which of the distances he is a threat to any competition- 100m, 200m and 400m- he will focus on this year.
“I guess you’ll have to wait and see how it goes,” he said with a grin.
One thing you can be sure is he will have a huge say on the destination of the top prize in the blue riband race of any international track and field meet when he lines up in the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold Label Kip Keino Classic on Saturday.