Africa’s fastest man Ferdinand Omanyala and six other Kenyan athletes left the country Wednesday night for the 2021 Dubai Run

The run, dubbed "Run with the Champions", will see participants among them the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, take part in 5km and 10km races along the iconic Sheikh Zayed superhighway on November 26.

The 2021 Dubai Run is among several activities lined-up for the seven athletes who will represent Kenya at the Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (Keproba), who will manage Kenya's pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai, aim to use to showcase Kenya as a destination for investment, sports, and tourism.

Apart from Omanyala the other Kenyan athletes include double 3,000m steeplechase Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi, former 800m world champion Janeth Jepkosgei, 2013 London Marathon winner Priscah Jeptoo, 2021 Berlin Marathon first runner-up Bethwel Yegon, Jonathan Kiplimo Maiyo, who set a personal best time of 2:04:56 at the 2012 Dubai Marathon, and 2010 Nagpur half-marathon winner Hellen Nzembi.

Omanyala will be the leader of the athletes’ delegation. Omanyala, who will do the 3km at the Expo run, shared his excitement at representing Kenya at the Expo.

"I am privileged to be among great athletes like Ezekiel Kemboi and Janeth Jepkosgei to promote our country through a fun and engaging initiative as this one," Omanyala told Nation Sport.

"Other than showcasing the best of my country, I also hope to learn from other countries," he added.

Omanyala is currently on a break before starting his busy 2022 season in February that will see him compete in the World Indoor Championships, Kipkeino Classic, Diamond League, Continental Tours, African Championships, World Championships, and the Commonwealth Games in six months.

The run will start at the Kenyan pavilion and, it will have three courses - 3km, 5km, and 10km routes.

Jepkosgei said she cannot wait to showcase the best of Kenyan agriculture and tourism.

"I am excited by my role at Expo. I look forward to telling the world about our peaceful and hospitable country, the good quality of our agricultural products and, our enchanting tourist attraction sites," the 37-year old, who has taken up coaching athletes, said

The Expo 2020 Dubai was initially scheduled to take place from October 20, 2020, to April 10, 2021, but it was cancelled due to Covid-19.

"Our athletes are our greatest ambassadors. Their presence at the Kenya Pavilion will boost our effort to market Kenya as a destination for investment, sports, and tourism," Keproba CEO Dr. Wilfred Marube said at the flag-off ceremony for the Kenyan athletes held at a Nairobi hotel on Wednesday.

posted Thursday November 18th
by michael Kirwa