NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 07 – Sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala’s Olympic dream stares at a bleak future despite attaining qualification time for Tokyo due to a dark cloud that hovers over his head, a doping sanction from 2017.
The 25-year old University of Nairobi student was handed a 14-month ban in 2017 by the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) and according to a new rule by Athletics Kenya (AK), athletes sanctioned for doping will not be allowed to don the Kenyan singlet again.
But, Omanyala who says he was a victim of circumstances in his doping ban four years ago, has asked for a second chance to achieve his Olympic dream.
“Nobody is perfect in this world. We all make mistakes and we learn from them. I believe in second chances. Most athletes who have been given second chances have gone on to be world champions and are performing well because they have learnt,”
–Victim of circumstances-
“I also learnt from my fault. I was a victim of circumstances but you don’t have to punish someone twice. People make mistakes and learn from them, so I believe I also deserve a second chance,” Omanyala said in an exclusive interview with Capital Sport.
Omanyala ran a time of 10.01secs in the 100m semi-finals at the Betking Making of Champions (MoC) Grand Prix at Yabatech Sports Complex in Lagos, Nigeria last month, attaining the qualification time after beating the 10.05secs cut-off.
His time in Lagos also qualifies to be a national record pending ratification.
But it is the Olympic dream that Omanyala is most passionate about.
“I have gone through a lot since I started my athletics career and I believe every problem has an end. There are discussions currently ongoing and we hold on to wait for the outcome. We hope that the talks will be positive and I will be slotted into the team,” a hopeful Omanyala stated.
A source at Athletics Kenya also insinuated the same, but didn’t give a definitive end for the discussions.
“There is the rule that bars doping offenders from donning national colours and that’s where Omanyala’s problem is. But the discussions are ongoing at the top level and we just wait to see what happens with it,” the source at AK stated.
If successful, Omanyala will be the first Kenyan sprinter at the Olympic Games.
“First of all it is very relaxing to qualify early. It is a relief for me and my coach because we have four months to prepare. It is always so hard when the Olympics is approaching and you have not qualified and you are there looking for meets and races to try and qualify. It’s a lot of pressure,”
“If I get to the Olympics, my plan is to take a race at a time and hopefully get to the final. If I get to the final then I believe I can fight for a medal and if I do that, then I would have achieved a lot. I have qualified early so there is a lot of time to look for international races to prepare and get set and ready for it,” Omanyala states.
-Good form this year-
The sprinting sensation has been in good form this year, having broken the national record once at the Athletics Kenya meets but it was regarded as wind-aided hence not put under consideration as a national record.
Omanyala has credited his performance to a good pre-season as well as a training program towards the end of last season with the Kenya Sevens rugby team.
“This season has been the best for me. We had a good pre-season training and we did sessions sometimes thrice daily. I also joined in the training program for the Kenya Sevens and I believe their strength and conditioning has had a big impact on my performance,” stated the sprinter.
Running the national record in Nigeria has given him massive motivation, having achieved something that he has constantly worked on.
“In 2019 in Iten I equalled the record but it was considered wind-aided. This year in January as well I ran 10.11 but it was also considered wind aided. I felt bad a bit but I decided to push harder and when I got the chance to go to Nigeria, I managed to break the record and this is a big moment for me because I achieved what I have always wanted to achieve,” Omanyala says.
-New management team-
His trip to Lagos for the meet had been uncertain until his new management company DBA Africa managed to secure an air ticket for him to travel in the last minut.
Omanyala is one of the many athletes signed up by DBA and he is hopeful that the new management will open up more doors and take his career to the next level.
“DBA is a blessing and like an angel sent from God. They are doing a great job in my athletics life and I believe this journey we have started together will take my career places. The next few years will be a blessing,” Omanyala states.