Nairobi — Kenya's 100m national record holder Mark Otieno hopes to put a hand on history by qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics scheduled for next year, despite World Athletics lowering the qualifying time to 10.05.
Odhiambo's current record stands at 10.14 but he remains optimistic he can hit the qualifying time.
"The Tokyo Olympics is one of my biggest targets. I went for the World Championships in 2017 and was unfortunate not to contest for Doha last year because of injury, but I managed to bounce back and go to the Africa Games in Morocco," Otieno says.
He adds; "Now I am looking forward to the Olympics and become the first Kenyan to compete at the games in the 100m. I know that if I can run faster, I will definitely make it and it will be a door opening opportunity for more sprinters."
While Kenya is known world over for long distance athletes, sprinters have seldom been associated with Kenya. Cavin Nkanata was the only Kenyan short distance athlete at the last Olympics in Rio in 2016.
"I will take a break to sit down and regenerate and start planning for the Olympics. I know the training will not be easy and I have to train knowing I should not be average," he added.
He plans to close his season with the Nairobi leg of the World Athletics Continental Gold Tour scheduled for October 3 and is currently sharpening his fitness with gym work at the SGD Fitness Centre in the heart of the City Centre.
"That is my focus currently and I hope that I will be selected to compete. I am really happy knowing that at least I will not be ending my season without a race. I am grateful to World Athletics for considering Nairobi as a host and hopefully I can represent the country well and show that as sprinters we are also there," Otieno stated.
His training has been hampered by the shutdown occasioned by government restrictions aimed at mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic which caused a stoppage of all sporting activities in the world from March.
But, the 27-year old says he has been forced to improvise to ensure he remains in tip top fitness condition ahead of the Continental Tour Meet in Nairobi.
"It has been very tough training especially because I couldn't access track. But at least now I am grateful that I can access the gym and step up my training," Otieno told Capital Sports after one of his sessions at the SDG Gym.
He added; "I have been improvising for my training. I went to a welder nearby and made some few training equipment and I also do go to Karura Forest to do some endurance and speed training at least to ensure that I am not caught off-guard when competitions come."
What makes Otieno's training so unique is that he has been training in Nairobi while his coach is based miles away in the United States but he notes that having done this for three years now, he is already used to the arrangement.
"We have been coordinating our sessions via emails. He sends me the programs to follow everyday and I send him videos of the workouts so that he can correct where I am doing wrong. It is interesting but I am okay and comfortable with it," Otieno notes.
With his work cut out to go in search of the magic 10.05 to be in Tokyo, Otieno has vowed to step up and ensure he not only earns a place in Tokyo, but also lowers his own national record.