Mark Otieno Odhiambo: Sprinter's Redemption Journey for Paris 2024 Olympics

Mark Otieno Odhiambo: Sprinter's Redemption Journey for Paris 2024 Olympics

Martin Moses
updated at April 17, 2024 at 7:14 AM
  • Mark Otieno is back and raring to go after the end of his doping ban in August 2023
  • He is still chasing 2024 Paris Olympics qualification as he begins his outdoor season
  • Sports Brief spoke to the former national 100m champion on his quest for redemption

In August 2021, in Tokyo, Mark Otieno Odhiambo received news that shattered his life and altered the course of his career.

The Kenyan sprinter was about to compete in the heats of the 100m race when he was banned by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

The body announced that Otieno had tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid methasterone and was subsequently suspended for two years.

Mark Otieno Odhiambo, Paris 2024 Olympics, Absa Kipkeino Classic, Ferdinand Omanyala
Mark Otieno (centre) competes at the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London. Photo by Alexander Hassenstein.
Source: Getty Images

Barred from participating competitively in a sport he had dedicated his life to, the three-time national champion found refuge in religion as he sought to overcome the dark days.

"I learnt a lot of things, but the greatest had to be that God is a great defence and a strong tower. When everything else was falling apart, He held me together and that you can overcome anything with Him by your side," he tells Sports Brief.

He reiterated that he was a victim of bad manufacturing practices when he took the contaminated supplements. The news hit him hard.

"I first took a break to digest everything and count my losses. I allowed myself to mourn the crash of my dreams. I didn't want to rush back."

Otieno returned to full training last year upon completing his ban, eager to make up for lost time ahead of a busy calendar year. Despite the two-year gap, he is still as motivated as before to return to where he was and better himself.

But it hasn't been easy.

"I had lost my race sharpness. When you are out for a long period of time, it is hard to remain competitive. It has been challenging, but I am glad I am slowly getting there."

He dropped a 10.39 on the first race post-suspension at a meet in Italy.

Paris 2024 Olympics

The 30-year-old has lofty ambitions on his return, with a podium finish at the Paris 2024 Olympics firmly in sight. But to race at the summer games, he must run below 10 seconds between now and June 30 to meet the entry standards. His personal best stands at 10.05 seconds.

He also ran a 6.78 and 6.67 in the 60m in an attempt to qualify for the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, but unfortunately couldn't hit the 6.58 mark.

Absa Kipkeino Classic 2024

Otieno is scheduled to compete on home soil when he lines up against Africa champion Ferdinand Omanyala, and American Kenny Bednarek, among others, at the Absa Kipkeino Classic on April 20 at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi.

Afterwards, he will team up with Omanyala, Meshack Baabu, Samuel Chege, Mike Mokamba, and Hesbon Ochieng at the World Relays Championship in Nassau, Bahamas, on May 4-5.

"The end goal is Paris for sure, but I have to hit the qualification standard. I am excited about this season."

Chat with Ferdinand Omanyala's brother

Sports Brief has also previously spoken to Isaac Omurwa, the younger brother of Ferdinand Omanyala.

Omurwa shared that, contrary to popular belief, the African champion did not influence him to take up sprinting.

He was initially a rugby player before injuries convinced him to switch to sprinting.

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Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)