Sprinter Mark Otieno is set to make history as the first Kenyan athlete to compete in 100 metres race in a World Championship when he lines up London next month.
Although Otieno, who will also represent Kenya in 200m at the World Championships in London from August 4-13, has not attained the qualifying mark in 100m, his national record of 10.14 seconds he set at the national championships on June 10 puts him 38th in the list of 56 athletes who have qualified in IAAF’s list.
Otieno, 24 is ranked 75th in the world in the 100m vanguard but what has given him a greenlight to the World Championships is his ranking as IAAF requires only 56 athletes for the London event.
“I am shocked to have qualified in 100m but I’m certain I will comfortably double up in the races,” said Otieno, who will be representing Kenya for the third time after competing in 100m at the 2015 African Games in Congo Brazzaville and in 4x200m at 2017 World Relays in Bahamas.
“It will be historic for me and Kenya in 100m. I hope to put my best foot forward,” explained Otieno, who competed in both 100m and 200m races at the national championships but ran in 200m at the World Championship trials. “It was my goal to qualify in both 100m and 200m, but I only made it in 200m. I thank God for the chance to compete in 100m.”
It’s at the national championships where Otieno clocked 20.41 seconds in 200m to qualify for the World Championships before breaking the national 100m record in a new time of 10.14, just missing the World Championships standard time of 10.12 by 0.02 seconds.
Otieno attributed his improvement this year to change of coaches. He is currently being handled by Hillary Wesonga. “My programme changed and so has my speed and endurance, which were lacking back then,” said Otieno.
Wesonga and Team Kenya sprints coach Vincent Mumo are currently refining Otieno’s skill, and they remain confident of putting him in the finals of both races. “He performed well at the Nationals with good speed an endurance but he complained of stiff muscles at the trials,” said Mumo. “We have addressed that with Wesonga and his speed is back to normal.”
Otieno’s talent in sprints seems natural as its dates back to when he was in Class One at St Juliet Primary School in Nairobi. Athletics runs deep in his family as his late grandmother Calsina and his father Paul Onyango were both sprinters. His father, who is based at the National Intelligent Service, competed for Police in 100m and long jump competitions back in the day.