How Education Shaped Ferdinand Omanyala To Become Africa’s Fastest Man
Ferdinand Omanyala, the 100-meter Commonwealth champion, and African record holder has pushed aspiring athletes to seek education at the highest level.
Tuesday, Omanyala attributed his sports success to his education, noting that his schooling had provided him with other chances.
The sprint star stated that if his parents had not taken him to school, he would have perished in the village.
“Education is what has brought me this far. If I hadn’t joined the University of Nairobi then, perhaps, I couldn’t be here today. I came to Nairobi because of education,” Omanyala said.
His words are made in the context of the widespread belief that the majority of athletes are bookworms and academic underachievers.
“Talent and education go hand in hand. So I want to urge the junior athletes to make good use of their education and let their studies come first and then use it to build their careers in track,” Omanyala said.
Omanyala began his athletics career while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at the University of Nairobi.
After years of dabbling in rugby, he made the audacious decision to try his luck on the track.
Omanyala stated, “A friend asked me to take a stab at the springs after noticing my speed as I played rugby.
In his first Athletics Kenya (AK) contest in Kakamega, he clocked an outstanding 10.4 seconds.
In the same year, he won the national Olympic trials with a time of 10.37 seconds. However, he failed to meet the Olympic Games qualification time of 10.16 seconds.
In spite of this, he experienced a big setback in 2017 when the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) banned him for 14 months after he tested positive for the banned drug glucocorticoid betamethasone.
His coach, Duncan Ayiemba, received a two-year suspension for administering or attempting to administer betamethasone.
This occurred when he tested positive for the illegal chemical betamethasone, which he said may have entered his system during treatment for his training-related back ailment.
Omanyala won the national championship in 2019 and established the national record with a time of 10.01 seconds at the Yabatech Sports Complex in Lagos, Nigeria in 2021.
At the 2020 Summer Olympics, he broke a new national record of 10.00 seconds and achieved a new personal best of 9.86 seconds to become the first Kenyan to ever breach the 10-second barrier.
At the Absa Kip Keino Classic held in Nairobi in September 2021, he ran 9.77 (+1.2 m/s) to set a new African record and finish second behind Trayvon Bromell, who ran a world-record 9.76.
The gold medal Omanyala won at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games was his greatest accomplishment to date.