CWG 2022: Kenya is known as a distance-running giant, but Ferdinand Omanyala, the fastest African ever, is showing they can excel at sprints too
Ferdinand Omanyala has sprinted much faster than the 10.02 seconds he clocked to win Kenya’s first Commonwealth Games Men’s 100m gold medal since 1962 at Birmingham 2022. He had taken a millisecond less at a Grand Prix in Lagos in March last year, a few months before the Tokyo Olympics. But there is a reason he remembers the heats where he finished first, before winning the final a few hours later.
With the Olympics round the corner, Omanyala wanted more exposure by running against the best sprinters. A letter was sent out to the director of a Diamond League competition for an entry for Africa’s most exciting sprint star.
“You will not believe the reply. I ran 10.01 in Nigeria and we sent a request to participate. Then the guy replies that he doesn’t believe the times because he doesn’t believe a Kenyan can run so fast. He said ‘let us look out and see what he runs in the future’. It showed people didn’t believe I could run fast because I was from Kenya,” Omanyala says.