American sprint great gives hilarious account on how Ferdinand Omanyala 'forced' him to retire

Ferdinand Omanyala with Justin Gatlin

American sprint great gives hilarious account on how Ferdinand Omanyala 'forced' him to retire

Mark Kinyanjui 07:37 - 10.05.2024

Gatlin has given a hilarious story on how Ferdinand Omanyala made him end his 20-year career.

American sprint Icon Justin Gatlin has revealed how Ferdinand Omanyala forced him to call quits on his career in a very hilarious manner on his Ready Set Go podcast.

Gatlin retired in 2021 after a 20-year career that saw him win numerous accolades. He clinched gold at the 2004 Olympics and earned multiple World Championship titles in the 100 meters in 2005 and 2017, also winning the 200 meters in 2005. 

Gatlin added to his accolades with a gold in the 4 x 100 meters relay at the 2019 World Championships and victories at the World Athletics Relays in 2015 and 2017  Indoors, he secured World Championship titles in the 60 meters in 2003 and 2012.

 Gatlin's impressive medal count includes five Olympic medals and twelve World Championship medals. Furthermore, he holds the record for three consecutive Diamond League titles in the 100 meters, triumphing in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

However, his last-ever race was the third edition of the Absa Kip Keino classic that took place at the Kasarani Stadium in 2021, where he got to race against Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala. It was in that race where Omanyala managed to clock a 9.71, becoming the ninth fastest man in the history of the world and fastest in African history.

Despite the initial impression that Omanyala might not compete due to a perceived injury, Gatlin found himself astonished as Omanyala swiftly passed him, leaving him trailing behind.

“We did a press conference and he was just giving me so much love, he was like, ‘its Justin Gatlin man, he was a legend’, and for that reason, I was like ‘ damn man, thank you.”

“Earlier in my career I was like, ‘we gotta run, we gotta battle’.

“So I am warming up. Everyone knows at the war barrier, you have to look for people you got to run against. I saw Trayvonn (Brommel) right there and I was like, cool, then I looked around. Where is Ferdinand? I was not seeing him.

“We still were warming up, but he was not showing up, then he came a little later and he had like a cramp or something, so I was like ‘ he ain’t gonna run, man’.

“We walk to the call room and  sit down and I look around. Guess who opened up the curtains for the tent? Ferdinand. I was like ‘You were just on the ground. I know you are hurt. Come on man, don’t run!’

“I was like, ‘maybe he is just saving face and will get into the blocks, will try to run then get injured because we are at his home.’

In Gatlin's own words, he realized the time had come to hang up his spikes after witnessing Omanyala's remarkable speed. 

Reflecting on the race, Gatlin recounted the humorous yet impactful moments that unfolded. Omanyala's unexpected surge  left him in awe. 

“So we get to the blocks, gun goes out, dry phase, I see that Trayvon is pulling away from me and I am like ‘alright, Trayvon got the boosties on me, he going, so I got a good second.’

“All of a sudden, I see this blur over my peripheral just riding. I had never seen somebody pass me so fast in my whole career, let alone a whole race. 20 years, I had never seen somebody pass that fast. He just comes and he surges. Soon as we cross the line I was like, yeah, that is my last race. I am retiring after this.”