Omanyala is now eyeing good show at Worlds and Olympics

Kenya's Ferdinand Omanyala celebrates winning and taking the gold medal in during the men's 100m final athletics event at the Alexander Stadium, in Birmingham on day six of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, central England, on August 3, 2022. (Kelly Ayodi, Standard)

Africa 100m record holder Ferdinand Omanyala is now hoping for a good show at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary and the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. 

On Wednesday, Omanyala became the first Kenyan in 60 years to win 100m gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. The late Seraphino Antao won gold medals in 100 and 220 yards at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth in western Australia. 

An elated Omanyala said. “I know it will sink in after some days, but it feels nice to lay my hands on this coveted crown and I am happy about it. My aim is to pave the way for many Kenyan sprinters and I know that I will inspire countless others to embrace the sprints,” he said. 

Omanyala, a recruit at the Kenya Police College in Kiganjo, said the win motivates him ahead of the World Championships and the Olympic Games. 

“We have a busy calendar in the next two years. I hope to impress also at the World Championships and the Olympic Games. We have been lagging behind in sprints. They just needed someone to break the barriers, and I am sure many more talented Kenyans will now come out strongly to prove their mettle to the world,” he said. 

Omanyala recovered brilliantly from setbacks last month which saw him suffer visa issues before the World Championships. 

Those problems saw him arrive in Oregon, US, just hours before his 100m heat before being knocked out in the semi-final. 

He said: “I came to Birmingham with the sole aim of winning the gold and in the final it was a case of controlling the race from the start. Once I got a good start I knew I would win the gold. When I crossed the line I felt like jumping for joy.” 

Omanyala, who is ranked as the eighth-fastest man of all time over the distance, posted an impressive 10.02 seconds to win comfortably ahead of continental rival and defending champion Akani Simbine of South Africa. 

Omanyala’s outstanding gold medal came hot on the heels of Irene Cheptai leading compatriot Sheila Chepkirui to a 2-3 finish in the women’s 10,000m final. 

Cheptai, the 2017 World Cross Country Champion, scooped silver for Kenya while 2016 African 5000m champion Chepkirui settled for silver. 

In a two-horse race battle between Kenya and Scotland, Cheptai finished second behind new Commonwealth Games champion Eilish McCoulgan who ran a games record 30.48.50.    

Chepkirui salvaged herself a bronze medal despite limping with almost three laps to go.  

In the race, Cheptai and Chepkirui paced and burned the entire field including favourite Stella Chesang of Uganda but Scottish McCoulgan stuck with them after 12 laps. 

The Kenyan duo exchanged leads with McCoulgan in third before the Scot went ahead with four laps to go.