- Omanyala’s career has been shaped by adversity and his Olympics dreams were almost crushed by determined Athletics Kenya (AK) officials.
- But a call from Statehouse made a breakthrough for the speedster paving way for a transcendent career.
Ferdinand Omanyala’s rise to become the fastest man in Africa has not been an easy sail. It has taken him focus and determination to become the man he is.
His forays in the 100m race has put Kenya on the global map and proved that the country is not only specialised in middle and long distance races.
To ensure he is always in good form, the sprinter has to take hours training in the gym and on the track. He also has to watch his diet and have a good support system.
This support mainly comes from family members, mentors and coaches. As compiled by WoK, here are the people behind Omanyala’s success.
Coach Duncan Ayiemba
Ayiemba takes pride in shaping Omanyala into a professional athlete. The duo met when Omanyala was still juggling between rugby and athletics.
Omanyala’s friends had always advised him to try out sprinting given his fast pace. He approached Ayiemba and they hit the road running. According to Ayiemba, he trained Omanyala on how best to sprint especially with the positioning of the arms and taking of steps.
“His running was awful. He used to run with his hands crossing the body, his legs criss-crossing all over, so as a coach I tried to correct that,” Ayiemba said in a past interview.
Omanyala’s wife, Laventa Amutavi proved a supportive woman when he was going through difficult times. It is for this reason that the couple has a strong bond and are always attending events together.
Gifted with a heart of gold, Amutavi would pay the rent when Omanyala was concentrating on training. At the time, the family was barely earning a cent from athletics.
“We had a baby, and I was in a financial position to help. I knew the potential Omanyala possessed and that is why I gave him time to pursue his dream. I am glad it is paying off,” said Amutavi in a 2022 Standard Media interview.
In return, Omanyala was quoted saying that he was going to give her anything that she wanted. He revealed how she budgeted the little pay she received.
“She would bring the money to the table and say, this is for training, rent and food…I now want to take care of her, she will get anything she wants,” Omanyala said.
Amutavi is also a sprinter and the pair met in Nakuru during a 2016 sporting event.
Coach Marcel Viljoen
He is a World Athletics accredited manager and founder of Fitness from Africa which is based in South Africa. In 2021, Omanyala revealed that he was under the tutelage of Viljoen and even had an intense training session in South Africa. The foreign coach has other sprinters under his stable and boasts of over 25 years of experience.
“Despite the numerous challenges, we have truly enjoyed some incredible highlights this year. From an intense training camp in SA, to the AK Olympic trials, to the Tokyo milestones,” Omanyala posted on Twitter.
Unknown to many, Omanyala’s Olympic dreams wouldn’t materialise as Athletics Kenya (AK) officials were determined to lock him out.
This is because the sprinter had been found to use a prohibited substance in 2017. He returned after a 14 month ban but he was more of a black sheep in the training camp.
The relationship between Omanyala and AK officials got frostier when he challenged their decision. In early 2021, Omanyala was determined to get an Olympics ticket but the matter was a stumbling block.
In March the same year, he received a sponsorship to participate in a race that was hosted in Lagos, Nigeria. Omanyala achieved an Olympics qualifying time of 10.01 seconds only for AK to discredit the race.
“What kind of race was that? We do not know if it met the set standards for such times to be recognized and we have not been contacted by Nigerian athletics officials about it. So we do not recognize that time,” said Paul Mwiti, an AK official.
Omanyala even tried to double his Olympics chances by joining the Kenyan rugby team training session but he was kicked out. This was because AK and National Olympics Committee executives didn’t want him to be part of team Kenya.
According to Mozzart Sport, it took a call from Statehouse with a clear directive to have Omanyala in the athletics team. And in home soil, he went on to disapprove his critics when he achieved a 10.02 seconds in the Olympics qualifications.