Ferdinand Omanyala opens up on difficult period he worked as a metal handyman to make ends meet

Ferdinand Omanyala opens up on difficult period he worked as a metal handyman to make ends meet

Mark Kinyanjui 13:42 - 19.04.2024

Omanyala once fended for his young family on just USD 7 (ksh 700) a day in 2017 after suffering a 14-month-long injury.

Ferdinand Omanyala may be one of the most recognisable athletes who has earned alot of endorsement deals given his prowess in the sprinting industry in recent years, but it was not always plain-sailing for the speedstar.

In 2015, Omanyala made his debut in athletics, clocking 10.4 seconds in his first AK meet in Mumias, Kakamega County. 

Just as his career was gaining momentum, a devastating setback occurred in 2017. Omanyala was found guilty of a doping offense after receiving treatment for an injured back, resulting in a 14-month suspension from the sport.

Facing financial hardships with a newborn son to care for, Omanyala took up manual labor jobs to make ends meet.

 "I got a job transporting metal and putting them in a wheelbarrow. I earned about 700 shillings (US$7) a day," Omanyala shared with Olympics, reflecting on the challenging period.

Despite the obstacles, Omanyala refused to give up on his dream. In 2021, he seized a golden opportunity to trial for the Olympic Games, viewing it as his last chance to make a mark in athletics.

His determination paid off when he set a national record of 10.01 seconds in the 100m at a meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, securing his qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

Not stopping there, Omanyala continued to shatter barriers by running a personal best of 9.86 seconds in Austria, becoming the first Kenyan to break the 10-second barrier.

Later that year, Omanyala set a new national record of 10.00 seconds at the Tokyo Olympics, further cementing his place among the world's elite sprinters. 

In September, he continued his impressive form by clocking 9.77 seconds at the Absa Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi, finishing just behind Trayvon Bromell, who ran a world-leading 9.76 seconds.

Despite the challenges he faced, Omanyala's resilience and determination have been key factors in his remarkable comeback.

 "He was hustling. Coming from those struggles has actually given him more drive in going for what he wants," Omanyala’s wife Laventa Amutavi commented.

His newfound status is telling, from driving a modest Toyota, to a brand new Mercedes Benz, a testimony that opportunities abound, no matter where one comes from.

Omanyala is hoping for more success  after running 39 races this term with an  Olympic medal remaining  his top, top desire.

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