From Attempting Suicide To Taking Kenya To First Ever Olympics: The Story Of Dennis Ombachi

By Prudence Minayo

Dennis Ombachi (Born on 14th December 1990) is a retired Kenyan rugby sevens player. He was an integral part of the team that competed at the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens series in Russia. He goes down history books as the man who helped Kenya clinch a position in the 2016 Rio Olympics after he scored a try in the dying minutes against Zimbabwe. Today, he uses his social media to earn a living and share life moments. 

Here is his story as told by WoK.

Background

Dennis grew up running around tea plantations as his father worked as a tea plantation manager. Their home had no electricity and his mom would often send him to fetch water from the river. Through his childhood experiences, he said he learnt to be resilient and humble. 

As a teen, he was sent to boarding school. While there, the bullying became too much and he ran away from school. Eventually, he was able to transfer from the school to Kiambu High School. The principal urged him to begin playing rugby. He ended up liking the sport and ended up playing it professionally. 

Rugby career 

He credits Humphrey Kayange and his former coach Mark Friday for playing a pivotal role at the beginning of his career. 

“When I started, Humphrey provided for my transport for over a year, the gym and my first training kit,” Ombachi said. 

The coach, on the other hand, understood him and gave him the confidence he needed in his career. 

During the 2016 Olympics, he suffered a grave knee injury that saw him stay out of the field for six months. While he was recovering, he did not feel confident enough to participate in the World Cup competitions. At the same time, he did not want to disappoint the coaches. He approached them and explained how he was feeling. They understood and encouraged him to seek help  

During that time, Dennis Ombachi attempted to take his own life. Fortunately, he was living with his sister and was rushed to the hospital. He was sent to the psychiatric ward and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This started him on a journey to self discovery. 

Family 

The father of two loves spending time with his family. He is also an avid cook who loves sharing cooking videos online. He is married to Stevlana Polikarpova. In a past interview, he revealed that his biggest fear was being unable to support his kids.

On Monday 11th July 2022, he shared a video that caused mixed reaction among Kenyans. In the video, he hugs his son before throwing him into the pool fully clothed. He lays face down before wrestling and finally floating on his back. He then declared the baby was water safe and said he had enrolled him into safety classes. He also said that he had put measures in place to ensure the child stays afloat. A section of Kenyans lauded the fact that he has taught the kids from a young age while others thought what he did was too risky. 

Mentorship

The former Rugby 7s player is also a mentor of the youth and the underprivileged. He has mentored many through the Good Kenya Foundation and in 2021 shared a video of them preparing a sumptuous and expensive meal for youths from underprivileged backgrounds. 

“In the end, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about who you’ve lifted, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back. A simple comfort food recipe that can feed and please a crowd!” Dennis Ombachi wrote the caption in a video posted on his Twitter page.

Ambassadorial role

Ombachi landed a lucrative ambassadorial role with Bidco Africa Limited through their Golden Fry cooking oil in 2021.