Will Omanyala run in Tokyo?
Kenyan sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala is a man facing several barriers; but his resolve remains unshaken as he seeks an Olympics nod after shattering the national 100m record.
Athletics Kenya (AK) have made it clear, no cheat whether current or past will be donning the national colours in the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics, but Omanyala insists he is a clean man who has served his suspension term to the later and now wants to redeem himself by representing his country at the biggest stage.
The University of Nairobi student was banned in 2017 for substance abuse and subsequently handed a 14 month suspension from all Athletics activity locally and internationally.
“I have gone through a lot of pain and despair but I know I deserve a chance to run for Kenya.
I am a man and I make mistakes but I own up to them. I have served time and I believe I should be given the opportunity to race.
I want to stay out of politics because my focus is to get on the heats for the Olympics,” said Omanyala during a recent interview off a work-out session at Kasarani Stadium.
Only last week, Omanyala broke the BetKing sponsored Making of Champions 100m race in Nigeria after posting a time of 10.05 seconds.
His record was, however, not been recognised as it was deemed to be supported by wind therefore not rubbing off a previous 10.14 record set by Mark Otieno.
With 10.05 seconds being the cut to make it to the Olympics, Omanyala reckons it is his chance to make amends.
“I have a ratified time and I am thereabout ranked in the top 10 globally so I want to go do what I love to do,” he added. Omanyala had appealed to the Sports Disputes Tribunal two years ago and was given the go ahead to run only in national meets.
Observers have argued that since he cannot get approval from Athletics Kenya to run for the country, he could try out as a neutral Athlete.
However experts have argued that since World Athletics gives only national federations wild cards for a special category of Athletes, AK will be shooting themselves on the foot if they compromised their own rule.
This has been emphasized by AK Vice-President Paul Mutwii who has been categorical on not ever giving a chance to persons found guilty of doping, to represent the country at any level, arguing that the Athletes body will not be cowed into submitting to complacency.
“Our stand still remains. Such athletes (charged with offences) can always seek to compete in other international events but not in Kenyan colours. We will not at the moment select them for any Championship events,” he told PD Wikendi.
This is reinforcing a January statement by Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed who warned that any athlete charged with doping offenses will not be allowed anywhere near the national team.