Our Own Bolt

by Ben Ayuko

{image by Pulse Sport Kenya}

Ferdinand Omanyala, Kenya’s very own answer to Usain Bolt, once again dominated the track in the 100m, this time at the Olympic Trials held in Nyayo Stadium. He clocked an impressive 9.79s which is the fastest time recorded in the world in this calendar year (2024). He is clearly a special talent, and it shows in his ability to consistently deliver in these events.

There may have been some doubt regarding his standing with the rest of the world, which in some parts of the Kenyan athletics fandom still exists, but that is no longer in question after witnessing him go blow for blow against the current best sprinters in the world time and time again, and time and time come out in the mix at the top end of the field. He’s come out on top once or twice in these competitions, but more often than not, he comes up short against the best. Surely it’s only a matter of time though

The Diamond League track meet in Monaco on June 2nd is a good example. Omanyala came up against the American, Christian Coleman, who was the 100m world champion in 2019. Coleman is a sprinter with pedigree having gone up against the likes of Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin multiple times, coming out on top. He is literally at the spearhead of the new age sprinter’s generation. This is no ordinary match up. Omanyala put his best foot forward, as he often does, but he could only muster up a 2nd place finish…by 3/100ths of a second. That’s not a lot.

Now, obviously he did suffer heartbreak in Budapest, 2023 world championships when he came 7th. I’m sure that must have hurt his confidence in himself a lot. But it was his debut season in the championship. Getting to the final was impressive in and of itself.

As a Kenyan interested in athletics, it’s a bit of an anomaly to see one of our own competing on such a grand stage in this event. Kenyans are usually known for long distance running so seeing him break the Mould in such dramatic fashion is thoroughly entertaining to watch and everyone should be behind him as he attempts to do what no other Kenyan has really done in our history.


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