Ferdinand Omanyala, the fastest man in Kenya

Friday, June 18th, 2021 14:25 |
Sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala (right) beats rival Mark Otieno to set a new national record and qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games during the Athletics Kenya Olympic Trials at Kasarani yesterday. Photo/PD/DAVID NDOLO

Sprinters Ferdinand Omanyala and Mark Otieno sensationally attained the Tokyo Olympics Games standards in the opening day of the national trials at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on Thursday.

This makes the duo the first-ever Kenyans to qualify for the Summer Games for the 100m race.

The men’s 100m lived up to the billing with the speed stars starting in line three and four, both registering new personal bests.

For all the pre-race anticipation that the two sprinters would do qualify, the predictions turned into reality and there was warm celebrations at the finish line that really set the tone here.

Omanyala clocked 10.2 seconds to beat Otieno at the finish line in a photo finish.

Otieno who has previously beaten Omanyala, clocked 10.05 seconds as the electrifying race climaxed day one proceedings. The the Olympics qualifying mark for 100m is 10.05 seconds.

Otieno, who is the 100m national record holder, had run 10.29 in the semis while Omanyala had clocked 10.12.

The final at national trials lived up to the billing as Omanyala exploded to set a new national record guiding Otieno in qualifying for the Games.

After three false starts, Omanyala kept his nerves cruising to 10.02 seconds as Otieno clocked 10.05 to finish second.

Omanyala had earlier qualified for the Olympics besides breaking the national record when he ran 10.01 at Yabatech Sports Complex in Lagos in April.

However, Athletics Kenya said it couldn’t recognize the time since the event wasn’t sanctioned.

That saw Otieno improve his national record of 10.14 to 10.09 in Zambia in May this year. Otieno saying it has been been a journey for him.

“It’s a dream come true since I have been chasing this qualifying time since January...  it has finally come and praise be to God.

I borrowed the shoes that I used today and I’m happy they worked for me. It’s now some final touches ahead of the games,” said Otieno.

Onn his part Omanyala  said it was nice to save the best for last.

“My plan was to run sub 10 seconds but I think this will come later. The Olympics postponement came as a blessing since it gave me more time to work hard and qualify,” said Omanyala.

In other results Games 400m hurdles champion Vanice Kerubo  and  Wiseman Were won women 100m hurdles  and men’s 100m hurdles at the trials but failed to qualify for the Olympics.

Vanice Kerubo clocked 15.32 beating teammate Veronica Kerubo to second place in 15.75 as Agnes Mutindi from Southern came in third in 16.85.

Were, the World Relays shuttle mixed relay bronze medallist, timed 14.06 to win but was outside the qualifying time of 13.32.

Hellen Syombua, who has qualified in 400m for the Olympics, and Joan Cherono all from Police won their respective 400m semi-finals in 53.36 and 54.33 respectively.

Also lighting up the trials were US based Emmanuel Korir and Michael Saruni who won their respective semi finals in the men’s 800m to book a place in Saturday’s final.

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