3. Ferdinand Omanyala

2022 was the year Ferdinand Omanyala stamped his authority as the fastest man in Africa and the Commonwealth, having thrown down the gauntlet by setting the current men’s 100m African Record of 9.77s in September last year, ranking him in 9th place on the men’s 100m all-time list. Indeed, the world has been forced to take notice of the Kenyan who has said, “I want to show the world that Kenyans can sprint as well.”

Ferdinand Omanyala is changing the narrative about Kenya’s potentials in the sprint.

The season began early for Omanyala who competed in 12 60m races, including the World Indoor Championships where he narrowly missed out on the final. He secured a string of 12 consecutive victories in the 100m in races across his home country Kenya, South Africa, Italy and Germany, including his first head-to-head encounter with Akani Simbine at the ASA Athletics Grand Prix where the Kenyan gained the upper hand. He also raced to a new Personal Best (PB) of 20.33s in the 200m enroute his journey towards winning the sprint double at the Kenyan National Championships.

Several days later, the 26-year old former Rugby player led the way, returning to Kasarani where he ran 9.77s in 2021, this time around running 9.85s to beat Fred Kerley at the Kip Keino Classic, drawing huge cheers from his home fans.

After shrugging off the challenge from his opponents in the heats and semis of the African Championships in Mauritius where he was making his debut, the Kenyan showed he could overcome serious challenges, scaling his second litmus test against Simbine in 2022 in the men’s 100m final. Although Omanyala was the favourite, Simbine made him work hard for the victory, with a photo finish adjudging the former the winner as the pair both clocked an identical 9.93s.

Omanyala’s win gave Kenya its first men’s 100m African Championships GOLD in 32 years! He didn’t rest on his oars and subsequently anchored Kenya’s 4x100m team to GOLD in a National Record (NR) of 39.28s. This was a morale booster for the African Record holder as he set his sights on the World Championships.

However, things didn’t quite go according to plan as the African, along with several other athletes, officials and journalists, faced a serious hitch in securing visas to the US for the Championships. The sprinter eventually secured a visa, arriving Oregon just three hours to his race, ultimately leading to a decline in his performance owing to fatigue. He managed to place 3rd in his heat and finished 5th in the semis, exiting the competition without make it to the final.

In spite of this disappointment, Omanyala picked himself up and set his sights on the Commonwealth Games where he made a statement by storming to GOLD ahead of defending champion Simbine, clocking a fast 10.02s. This was a historic medal for Kenya, their first 100m GOLD medal in 60 years at the Commonwealth Games after Seraphino Antao won the event in 1962 when the race was 100 yards.

Ferdinand Omanyala made history for Kenya at the Commonwealth Games, handing his country their first men’s 100m GOLD in 60 years.

Winning the Commonwealth Games title was a great consolation for Omanyala and a fitting end to his season. With the African and Commonwealth Games medals under his belt, Africa’s fastest man will be gunning for first global medal next season.

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Yemi Olus is a Senior Sportswriter and Editor at Making of Champions. She has a bias for Athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the African Athletics Championships, African Games and IAAF World Championships. She also freelances for World Athletics.

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