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Jacobs makes 100m return in stellar Nairobi sprint field

In Nairobi, Olympic champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs will run his first 100 metres since he shocked the athletics world in Tokyo last year. ©AFP

Nairobi (AFP) - Olympic champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs runs his first 100 metres since his shock win at the Tokyo Games last year in Saturday's Kip Keino Classic meet in the Kenyan capital.

Jacobs and silver medallist Fred Kerley will go head-to-head for the first time since the Olympics.

Their clash comes six weeks since Jacobs stormed to victory to take the world indoor 60m gold in Belgrade when the Italian chased down the American world 100m champion Christian Coleman in the final.

Nairobi's Kasarani stadium is braced for the biggest track and field showdown of the year so far, the third in the World Athletics Continental tour, as some of the world's top sprinters get an early test of their form two months before the world championships.

Jacobs is relishing his Nairobi debut and another match-up with the American Kerley, who raced here last September over 200m setting a personal best 19.76sec, and the 27-year-old Italian has promised a fast time.

"It will be important for me to win this one, and I hope to run faster than ever," said Jacobs.

His opponents include fellow Italian Fillipo Tortu and the Kenyan and African 100m record holder Ferdinand Omanyala.

Kerley, who holds a world-class 9.84sec from Tokyo, is looking forward to a meeting on a track he knows well.

"I'm happy and look forward to running fast at Kasarani where I ran a PB in 200m in September," the multi-talented American, who celebrates his 27th birthday on Saturday, said.

Home favourite Omanyala ran an African record 9.77sec to finish second to American Trayvon Bromell in the last meeting here.

"This year is going to be better than last year.I am not looking at any of my opponents but I am prepared to stop the clock at 9.90," said Omanyala. 

The women's 100m is equally explosive with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price, the three-time Olympic gold medallist, taking on rising Namibian star Christine Mboma, the Olympic 200m silver medallist.

The 35-year-old Fraser-Price opened her outdoor season with a second-place finish in a 200m in Jamaica in April.

She is happy with the quality field entered for the 100m although her anticipated clash with Sha'Carri Richardson was scratched out after the American dropped out of the meeting.

"For me the athletes that will definitely bring their A game is very crucial because the only way you can practice what you have been doing in training is when you have good competition," Fraser-Pryce told reporters on arrival in Nairobi.

"I am just looking forward to having good competition and focusing on just me as an athlete and what I want to accomplish for this 2022 season."

Mboma, who will race against Fraser-Pryce in the 100m and also goes in the 200m, comes to Kenya fresh from her superb two-race domination at a meeting in Botswana last weekend.

Her 10.97sec in the 100m was an African under-20 record and she also flashed to a world-leading 21.87sec in the 200m.

Her training partner Beatrice Masilingi was injured in Gaborone and cannot compete in Nairobi.

Kenya's former 3000m steeplechase Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto continues the long road back from an injury absence which deprived him of the chance to defend his title in Tokyo.

In Kipruto's absence, Morocco's Soufiane El Bakkali ended Kenya’s 40-year unbroken run of Olympic steeplechase dominance.

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