Deji's Doodles, #9: Kerley's loss to Omanyala leaves him in a difficult situation, Norman is on the road to winning his first major medal and the Wanda Diamond league starts on Friday. 


This is Deji's Doodles. Deji does this weekly column on the happenings of track & field in the past week.


Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Kip Keino Classic, photo by KIP KEINO CLASSIC

Kerley's loss to Omanyala leaves him in a difficult situation, Norman is on the road to winning his first major medal and the Wanda Diamond league starts on Friday.

The last seven days of athletics brought us a raft of World leads in the 100m for women and men at the Kip Kieno Classic as Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce opened her season with a monstrous world lead of 10.67, with Ferdinand Omanyala defeating Fred Kerley. Elsewhere, the Diamond League will be starting this Friday and there will be a rejig to the system.

Fred Kerley will be caught in two minds, as he needs to make a decision quick

Fred Kerley is an enigma, and there is so much that he can do as a sprinter at this point that he's the envy of most of his competitors. However, his second-place finish over the 100m, behind Kenya's Ferdinand Omanyala at the Kip Kieno Classic last weekend gave us an inclination of what potentially can be the outcome of the season.

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Fred Kerley, KIp Keino Classic, photo by KIP KEINO CLASSIC

After he led a Team USA 100-meter sweep in Brussels last year to become the first man to win Diamond League 100, 200 and 400 races, a specific Twitter account had a question.

"So... which event will @fkerley99 focus on next year? Asking for a friend," wrote the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.
"800," Kerley replied, followed by three laughing emojis. "naw I just playing."

With less than two months to go before the World Championships, it's pretty obvious he's still undecided on which event to focus on. Despite him claiming Silver over the 100m at the Tokyo Olympics, he seems to have fallen down the pecking order when it comes to potential medalists ahead of the World Championships in July.

Olympic Champion and World 60m Champion, Marcel Jacobs was on the lineup in Nairobi but pulled out on race day because of a stomach upset. He's still seen as one of the favorites for Gold in Oregon, while countryman Christian Coleman, who opened his season in Tokyo the same weekend with a 10.09, will be on a mission to defend his World title.

And there's Ferdinand Omanyala and Trayvon Bromell whose attention is solely fixed on the men's 100m ahead of the global champs. The thing is, Kerley has still had to contend with a 200m specialist if he has to focus his attention there. 18-year-Old Erriyon Knighton holds the World Lead over the distance this year, Noah Lyles is the defending World Champion, and there is Canada's Andre De Grasse is the Olympic Champion.

His numbers over the two events as well as the 400m look good so far, but Championship level racing comes with a different kettle of fish. For now, Kerley must be caught in two minds on which events he should focus on at Worlds.

Ferdinand Omanyala needs to be added to the 100m lineup at the Prefontaine Classic

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Ferdinand Omanyala, poster, by KIP KEINO CLASSIC

When the Prefontaine Classic released its line-up for the men's 100m ahead of the Diamond League at Heyward field on May 28, it was seen as a dress rehearsal before the World Championships in the Summer. The crème de la crème of sprinting were on the start list.
De Grasse, Kerley, Coleman, Jacobs...It was a box office draw. Understandable, Nike would have felt the need to include some of their top names there ahead of any other athletes who would bring traction to the event.

Cue in Ferdinand Omanyala. He was Africa's Record holder at the point the line-up was made, had defeated the African Champion Akani Simbine and more recently the World leader in the event. It only made sense he was included, as there are six Americans on the lineup. It's not to late, though.

The Wanda Diamond League needs a rejig

World Athletics' flagship event outside the World Championships is the Diamond League. It offers the governing body a chance to market itself through broadcasters to the wider world over four months and showcase the best athletes the sport has got to offer.

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Doha Diamond League, photo by Diamond League AG

Over the last decade, there have been some changes to the program, with the more recent one having to see the finals in Zurich and Brussels alternate from 2024-to 2027. Regardless, it doesn't look like it will draw enough global appeal.

World Athletics president talked a great deal about the sport drawing the most viewers among all sports in last summer's Olympic program, but it seems it just can't do enough to leverage on that outside the sport.

Athletics is being left behind a great deal when it comes to innovation. Tennis with the Grand slams in the big cities, Formula One adding Miami to its circuit to further its appeal around Gen Z's, Basketball dominating the Asian market through the NBA, and there are Track and Field, which despite its arrays of events can't charm a huge audience.

Can Christine Mboma bounce back from this setback?

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Christine Mboma, Kip Keino Classic, photo by KIP KEINO CLASSIC

Injury is the nightmare of any athlete. For a sport like athletics which requires all parts of your body to be at their optimal best, the road to recovery can be very gruesome. Christine Mboma who became a revelation last season has found herself in that despondent situation.

At the Kip Kieno classic, she copped an injury in the women's 100m as she went shoulder to shoulder with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who eventually won the race in a World Leading time of 10.67. Afterward, it was first diagnosed that she had a groin injury, but she would have to fly to South Africa for further assessment.
Ostensibly, it could derail the entirety of her season ruling her out of the African Championships and the World Championships in which she was the favourite to win Gold over the 200m. Best case scenario, she comes back from these champs, but there's a huge possibility she doesn't get to her best shape. It's dicey, and how she manages the situation is very crucial with her best bet ensuring a total recovery so she can bounce back stronger.

Michael Norman needs to fulfill his potential

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Michael Norman, 2021 US Olympic Trials, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto

USA's Michael Norman stormed to a 400m victory at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix - a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting in Tokyo, clocking 44.62. It feels a long time ago Norman was the next best thing to project the 400m after he ran 43.45 to open his 2019 season.

With so many NCAA titles in the bag, it was only a matter of time before he was meant to blossom. Two major Championships after (2019 World Championships and Tokyo Olympics), Norman is still yet to win an individual medal over the 400m.

Prodigious talents always find themselves in this sort of situation most of the time, but Norman, who falls in that bracket, is not getting any younger. At 24, he needs to begin to show the track world how special he is.

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