Ferdinand Omanyala is a Kenyan sprinter and Africa’s fastest man specializing in 100m and 200m races. In July, he broke Africa’s 100 meters record that Akani Simbine from South Africa had set by finishing at 9.77s against the previous record of 9.85s. Omanyala is also the world’s eighth-fastest man after finishing behind Trayvon Bromell of the USA.
Although he started his athletic career in 2016, he received a doping ban in 2017 that lasted for 14 months. The sprinter admitted that he took a painkiller that had steroids which is a banned substance.
Continue reading for information about Ferdinand Omanyala’s childhood, personal life, career and lessons you can learn from him.
Ferdinand Omanyala Omurwa was born in Busia County on January 2, 1996, in a family of five brothers. He is the third born and his parents, Fred and Shikanga Omurwa fully supported his academic training.
He joined Friends School Kamusinga for his high school education in 2010 and is currently pursuing pharmaceutical science at the University of Nairobi.
Omanyala was a top player in rugby when he was at Kamusinga. In fact, he was looking forward to joining Kenya’s U20 rugby team. In 2016, he was to attend a trial but due to unclear reasons, this event didn’t take place.
A friend encouraged Omanyala to join athletics after noticing his ultrafast speed. His coach Duncan Ayiemba was also attracted by his impressive sprint and offered to polish his talent.
His mother is his number one fan and has always been proud of the sprinter’s achievements.
The Nairobi-based male sprinter is married to Lavender Mutavi and the couple has one son known as Quinton Finn.
Career & Achievement
Omanyala began competing in early 2016 after bravely switching from rugby to track. He stepped the finishing line at 10.4s during the Kakamega AK meet and 10.37s in the national Olympics trials thus missing the qualifying standard capped at 10.16s.
In 2017, he received a 14-month suspension after a doping offence. This occurred when Omanyala sustained a back injury during training and the doctor gave him a painkiller with betamethasone, which is a prohibited substance.
In 2018, Omanyala suffered an awful back injury and had to take some time off the track to recover.
In 2019, he won the 100m national title and on March 30, 2021, the sprinter set a new record of 10.01 seconds at the Yabatech Sport Complex in Lagos, Nigeria. However, all sporting activities were put on hold in 2020 due to the health crisis.
The sprinter competed in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and finished at 10.00s in the 100m semi-finals. That was 0.04 behind Fred Kerley who won the silver medal and 0.02 after Andre De Grasse who took the bronze medal.
On September 18, 2021, Omanyala finished at 9.77s at the Absa Kip Keino Classic Continental Tour while the USA’s Trayvon Bromell finished at 9.76s.
Lessons You Can Learn from Omanyala
When he was banned from the competitions due to doping, the Kenyan sprinter explained that,
“I felt I was a victim of circumstance, it was a painkiller and then it turned out it had a steroid in it and that (experience) is what shaped me to be the person that I am today.”
Omanyala learnt from his doping experience and rose again. He had to forgive, forget and move on with his career after the 14-month ban.
Actually, he says that the ban gave him resilience and made him stronger. Upcoming athletes should learn from his experience that “you shouldn’t just take anything and you shouldn’t just trust anyone in athletics.”
Further, he almost missed a chance to represent his country in the Olympic Games because Athletics Kenya disqualified him because of the doping ban even if he had attained the qualifying time for this event. However, he considered running at the Olympic Games as an independent athlete due to the dark cloud hanging over him. He was not going to give up on his career.
Additionally, Kenya is known for middle and long distances but the sprinter inspires the future generation to consider other avenues. His goal is to nurture 10 more sprinters thus breaking the perception that Kenyans are not meant for short races.
Ferdinand Omanyala’s idol is Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake. He aims to put his name on the list of the world’s elite sprinters even as he trains to achieve less than 10 seconds run in his athletic career. To him, “there is no limit in possibilities.”