It's a dash to the starting line.
Africa’s fastest man Ferdinand Omanyala has finally secured a US visa to fly to Oregon for the World Athletics Championships and will be leaving Kenya at 6pm.
Omanyala, set to represent Kenya in the 100 metres event, on Friday did not receive his VISA in time to travel and is now uncertain whether he will make it on time considering the time difference between Oregon and Nairobi is 10hrs.
Omanyala will board Qatar airline at 6pm to Dubai before making a connection flight to the US and will arrive in Oregon 2 hours 40mins before the race.
Earlier, Omanyala had indicated he would not be participating in the event due to the visa hitch. In a drastic turn of events, Omanyala has confirmed to The Standard his visa is ready.
“I have been called to go and pick up the passport, that my visa is ready. This is a huge relief. Now my hope is that I will be in Oregon before the race starts, my race is scheduled around 4am Kenyan time, that's Saturday morning,” Omanyala told Standard Sports.
Omanyala is not the only athlete hit by the Visa hitch. Athletes from South Africa, Gambia and India also had their visas delayed.
Tokyo Olympics 100 metres semi-finalist Gift Leotleta (South Africa) along with nine other runners were reportedly stranded in Italy due to delayed visas.
200 metres runner Dhanalakshmi Sekar (India) also experienced delays in his visa.
Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei, Team Kenya manager Rono Bunei, physiotherapists Jessica Shiraku, John Muraya and Japheth Kariakim and team doctor Victor Bargori also experienced visa hitches.
Omanyala thanked President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage, and Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed for working fast to get his visa sorted.
“Visa challenges are faced by all Kenyans and people daily, in this case I was no different. I will also be competing in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on July 28th. Looking forward to making all Kenyans proud,” he said.
We are very pleased to secure both USA and UK visas for all our athletes including our sensational athlete @Ferdiomanyala . Our athletes are now set for both the world championships and commonwealth games! @AMB_A_Mohammed @JoeOkudo pic.twitter.com/IA7kjHZNJl — Ministry Of Sports, Culture & Heritage (@moscakenya) July 14, 2022
Omanyala is famous for having set the men's 100 metres record in Africa, clocking 9.77 seconds at the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi in September last year.
Omanyala was also the first Kenyan sprinter to reach the semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics last year.
Omanyala was the only athlete who had not secured the visa by Wednesday evening.
Some of the national team officials including Athletics Kenya president Jack Tuwei, National Olympic Committee president Paul Tergat, team doctor Victor Bargoria and team manager Rono Bunei had also not received visas by the time of going to press.
Others are physiotherapists Jessica Shiraku, John Muraya and Japheth Kariakim.
On Wednesday: “It’s really sad. I have kept holding my phone hoping to receive a call from the embassy. I have left everything to God,” said Omanyala.
Omanyala and five other team officials are still holed up in Nairobi with the hope of getting the travelling documents.
Athletics Kenya officials expected the situation will be resolved yesterday to enable the athletes to travel last night.
The first batch left on Monday including the reigning world 1,500m Timothy Cheruiyot, and the second lot consisting of Wycliffe Kinyamal, Emmanuel Korir, Margaret Chelimo, Beatrice Chebet, Sheila Chepkurui left on Tuesday night.
The team will be seeking to surpass the performance they had at the last edition in Doha, Qatar.