Africa's fastest man Ferdinand Omanyala reveals his true sporting love, and its not athletics

Africa's fastest man Ferdinand Omanyala reveals his true sporting love, and its not athletics

Mark Kinyanjui 15:54 - 18.04.2024

Omanyala has admitted he initially got into athletics to help him make ends meet, but revealed the sport he truly has an affinity for.

Ferdinand Omanyala, Africa's fastest man, has opened up about his journey from a rugby player to dominating the world of athletics.

Omanyala, who currently holds the African record with a time of 9.77 seconds in the 100m sprint.  

At 20, Omanyala’s peers were making significant strides in athletics. Some had already become household names, while others were setting world records on global stages.

For context, Christian Coleman, his agemate, was a year off dominating at the 2017 World Athletics Championships, having been a part of USA’s Olympic team the year before. 

Noah Lyles was signing sponsorship deals with Adidas while still a high schooler in 2017. Omanyala was a second-year student at the University of Nairobi studying chemistry, while playing for Stingers as a rugby player part-time.

Despite his athletic prowess on the rugby field as a lightning-fast winger, Omanyala's father emphasised the importance of academics.

“My dad was strict about education, urging us to focus on our studies and excel,” Omanyala shared with Olympics.

 “While he had enjoyed a successful life due to his education, my passion was always rugby.”

Recalling his rugby days, Omanyala fondly remembered his speed as a winger, stating, “From day one, I was unstoppable on that wing. I would outpace everyone, leaving bodies falling behind me. Rugby was, and still is, my love.”

However, the financial challenges associated with rugby in Kenya, especially at the university level, led Omanyala to consider athletics as a means to support himself. 

He initially viewed athletics as a temporary venture, aiming to utilise his speed to earn money quickly.

“My initial plan was simple: join athletics for six months, make some money, and then move on,” Omanyala revealed. 

He timed 10.4s in his first AK meet in Mumias, Kakamega County. The same year, he won the national Olympics trials over the 100m distance in a time of 10.37 but never met the qualifying standard for the Olympics which was 10.16.

“After my first event, those six months turned into an ongoing journey that I never expected," he remembers.

Omanyala's transition from rugby to athletics proved to be a turning point in his life. Instead of a short-term financial solution, he discovered a passion and talent that propelled him to become one of the fastest men in the world.

There have been some downs, including receiving a 14-month suspension for testing  positive for the prohibited substance betamethasone, after undergoing treatment for his back injury which he got during rugby training, but it allowed him to fully transition into rugby.

Today, Omanyala continues to chase his dreams on the track, setting his sights on achieving even greater success in athletics. His story serves as an inspiration, reminding others to embrace unexpected opportunities and pursue their passions wholeheartedly.

Follow Pulse Sports X account for more updates.