The rise of the now sensational Kenyan sprinter, Ferdinand Omanyala has been as fast as his times on the track.
At the end of the Kenyan national championships that ended today (28th April) at the Moi International Sports Center in Kasarani, Nairobi; Omanyala has been spectacular in the three events he got to participate in, winning them in very clear margins. He won the men’s 100m and 200m finals as well as run an amazing last leg of the 4 x 100m relay race to move his team from the last position they were before he got the baton to winning the race.
From his meteoric rise since last year, one would have expected that more Kenyan runners would follow in his footsteps and that we would be having so many sprinters from Kenya, and worthy competition for him at the Kenyan national championships. But, as it appears, he is still in a league of his own.
Nevertheless, the effects of Omanyala’s success were evident when the first Athletics Kenya track and field event this year caused a nightmare for the officials since they had to take some drastic changes to the programs after there were too many unexpected heats in the sprint events that took the better part of the day. The officials had to cancel some scheduled finals in some events and use the times registered in the heats to get the eventual winners.
Omanyala seems to be even more motivated and under pressure to inspire more this year after a great start to his outdoor season.
The fastest Kenyan sprinter has remained unbeaten this year in all the six races he has run so far in Kenya and the two races he has also run in South Africa, with his seasonal best time being 9:98 which he ran at the Germiston Stadium in South Africa.
Omanyala came into the limelight after winning the Kenyan Olympic trials in June last year in a time of 10.02 for the 100m; a time that made him qualify for the Olympic Games. At the Tokyo Olympics, he continued to impress by reaching the semi-finals where he finished third in his semi-final heat.
Being the fastest 100m runner on the African continent, Omanyala is hungry for a championship title that will match his speed and that is why his focus is now on making the Kenyan team to the African Championships that will happen in June. “It bothers me that I am the African record holder but no title to match the record,” said Omanyala.
But first, he will be in action next month at the Kip Keino Classic World Athletics Continental Tour Gold event on the 7th. Fred Kerley, the 100m silver medalist from Tokyo, and Kenny Bednarek, the 200m silver medalist will be making the 100m event interesting to watch as the two could push Omanyala to better his personal best time of 9.77.
In the three-day national event that was used to select Kenya’s team for the African Athletics Championships in Mauritius, there was a strong indication that new stars are slowly emerging in the middle and long-distance events as World under 20 medalists from last year’s event in Nairobi won in some of the events. Noah Kibet who was the bronze medalist in the men’s 800m won his race today. Similarly, the world under 20 champions in the women’s races; Purity Chepkurui and Jacklyne Chepkoech beat some of the well-experienced runners to win their respective distances in the women’s 1500m and 3000m steeplechase respectively.
Other runners who won their events as well and who seem relatively new as well when it comes to carrying the Kenyan flag to major championships include Kenneth Kiprop in the men’s 10,000m, Jarinter Mawia in the women’s 800m, and Daniel Simiu and Beatrice Chebet in the men and women 5000m.
However, as the road running season appears to be going on a short break to usher in an exciting outdoor track season with the diamond league meetings beginning next month, and before other big city marathons could resume in September, one of the Kenyan track runners that the world will definitely be focusing on will be Omanyala. Will he continue to hold the African record in the 100m? Can he get closer to Usain Bolt’s world record of 9.58? Will he get to medal at the world championships in Oregon?
Time will tell.