Ferdinand Omanyala: Africa’s fastest men’s race to make Kenya ‘enemy nation’

The 26-year-old is leading a role model after racking up multiple wins this year. In May, Umanila was the first to reach the men’s 100m finish line at the Continental Athletics World Tour. The following month, he snatched first place in the 100 meters race again after completing filming at the African Championships in Athletics. Umanyala won Kenya’s first gold medal in the 100m in 60 years at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The sprinter, who reached the 100m semi-finals at the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, says he is constantly training for the upcoming competition.

For Omanyala, racing is “90% mental”. Besides rigorous training and practice sessions, the track star says his trick to staying calm is to visualize the event for the weeks leading up to race day.

“There are always two sides to a race: you either win or you lose. So, I always imagine both sides, so when I get into a race and something happens, it doesn’t hit me hard because I already imagined it,” he said.

Read more: What it’s like to sail around an entire African country on foot in 16 days
Reflecting on his career, Omanyala says one of his biggest accomplishments was setting the African record for the 100m at the Cape Keno Classic in 2021, despite losing the gold medal by 0.01sec. With a time of 9.77, Omanyala became the fastest sprinter in Africa and the ninth fastest man in history.

“I remember I never recovered for a month. I was still thinking, ‘Is this a dream? I can’t believe this is happening,'” he said.

Now, the sprinter has his sights set on breaking the 100-meter world record, which is currently held by Usain Bolt with a time of 9.58 seconds. “I’m looking at running 9.6 this season and then removing it in the near future,” he said.

Watch the video above to see how Umanila trains the next generation of runners.

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