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Ferdinand Omanyala’s Recent Races Offer Hope Despite Back to Back Losses to Fred Kerley
- Ferdinand Omanyala has declared his intentions to win gold at the World Athletics Championships
- The fastest man in the world this year has put the world on notice with his performances this season
- There have also been some doubts on whether Omanyala can actually challenge for the world title
Ferdinand Omanyala's rise to stardom has to be one of the most inspirational stories you will find in the Kenyan - and by extension, African - sports space.
Getting into a discipline not so fancied in the country, almost giving up after your career looks to have stalled, and getting hit by a doping ban probably seems like too much to handle, but Omanyala's story is one of persistence and determination.
He is now the fastest man on the continent and only seven people in history have run faster times than him over 100 metres; impressive even for those who thought Kenya could not produce sprinters.
If you add the African title, African record, and Commonwealth Games title, this already looks like a pretty impressive CV.
Yet whenever one hears the 27-year-old talking in his characteristic confident nature, he always wants more. He has in the past openly declared intentions to challenge Usain Bolt's 9.58-second world record.
Omanyala at World Athletics Championships
But more imminently and importantly, Omanyala harbours dreams of becoming the first Kenyan to earn a medal at the World Athletics Championships in the 100-metre event.
His plans were derailed last year after visa hitches saw him arrive in Eugene, Oregon, roughly two hours before the start of the heats.
This year, however, preparations seem to have hit top gear, which began with indoor races where he broke the national 60-metre record in France.
There have always been concerns about Omanyala's capability of going toe-to-toe with elite athletes from Jamaica and the United States of America. His races this year offer nothing but proof that he is ready to take the fight to their doorstep.
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Omanyala's losses to Fred Kerley
For starters, the Commonwealth Champion hasn't lost any 100-metre race this season bar the back-to-back defeats to Fred Kerley in the Rabat and Florence Diamond Leagues.
The fastest African might have gone down to the World Champion, but here is the interesting bit - no man has run faster than him this year. He clocked 9.84 seconds at the Kip Keino Classic. Not even Kerley has hit those heights yet.
Omanyala has also run unofficial times of 9.78 seconds and 9.81 seconds at different events, but they were never ratified by World Athletics due to wind speeds or faults in time-measuring equipment.
To cut a long story short, he is a man in form.
The losses to Kerley will surely have given him a stark reminder that there is still more to be done for him to be on top of the world in Budapest later this year. The American will be a strong favourite to retain his title.
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Who else will Omanyala face?
Omanyala's other competitors will be 2019 World Champion Christian Coleman, Akani Simbine whom he dethroned twice over separate events last year, reigning Diamond League champion Trayvon Bromell, World Silver medalist Marvin-Bracy Williams, and perhaps Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs, who is yet to provide consistent performances.
There is also Jamaica's prodigy, Oblique Seville among others like his childhood hero, Yohan Blake.
In this lineup, Omanyala has already beaten Simbine, Bracy-Williams, and Jacobs in different events this year. Barring another misfortune, Kenya can hope for a decent outing at the World Athletics Championships if he maintains the same trajectory and his opponents don't pull a Jacobs move (Tokyo Olympics) in Budapest.
On June 9, he will line up against Jacobs and World 200m Champion, Noah Lyles at the Paris Diamond League before he retreats for intensified personal training ahead of the August event.
One could use this as bank collateral - Omanyala is ripe to drown out the noise and not only test himself against the world's best, but also challenge for a place at the podium. In his own words, what do they use that he doesn't?
His goal will be to win the whole thing because why not? However, considering Kenya's history in short races, falling inside the medal bracket will still be a win of significant proportions.
Mark your calendars: August 21 is the day scheduled for the 100-metre finals and we will be there.