Ferdinand Omanyala sent a message to the entire sprint world, with his 9.86 on Friday, February 24, and 9.82 on Saturday, February 25, in Nairobi, Kenya. Deji Ogeyingbo wrote this piece on Saturday and asked me to post, with haste, as many will find the Kenyan sprinting sensation shaking up the sprint world, prior to Budapest World Champs 2023!
Ferdinand Omanyala sets the tone for an interesting summer in the 100m, but does he run the risk of burnout?
9.86 on Friday and 9.82s on Saturday. Yes, we aren’t dreaming. Ferdinand Omanyala is re-writing many preconceived concepts about racing in a world championship year. Six months before athletics’ biggest event, the current African Record holder is running he sucks off that his major rivals will surely begin to buckle their belt ahead of what surely will be an interesting summer.
After his very busy indoor season in which he chalked up eight races (heats and finals) in France-beating the Olympic Champion Marcel Jacobs too, the Kenyan has taken that form outdoors. At the AK meeting in Nairobi, he was literally flying as he took his opponents to the cleaners in the semis and finals.
Well, it wasn’t surprising really. After all, he’s the reigning African and Commonwealth Games Champion. He’s undoubtedly one of the fastest sprinters on the circuit and his recent performance further indicates how good he can be on any given day.
For starters, the time was run at altitude in Nairobi. In fact, over 90% of Omanyala’s races under 9.9s have either been run at altitude in Nairobi or Austria or have had a huge tailwind pushing him. That’s not to take anything away from him. You can only race who’s in front of you and the conditions made available. And Omanyala has a knack for finding himself in the right place.
During his breakout season in which he became the first Kenya to make the semis of the 100m of the Olympics, Omanyala who got into the sport a bit late as he started off as a rugby player, ran a 9.86s in Austria two weeks later before going on to break the African Record in Nairobi. It was a race that saw Treyvon Bromell set his Personal Best of 9.76s, too.
So, what does this mean for Omanyala? Not much really except that he can still race fast, and he’s up there with the big boys. Would it send shivers down their spines? Not exactly too. Although he has the record of beating Kerley at the Kip Kieno Classic in Nairobi in 2022 -no prices for guessing (he ran 9.85s), as well as taking a Jacobs to the cleaners more recently.
Perhaps the more daunting issue for Omanyala is how he manages his body heading into the summer. That’s all that matter. At least for most Professional athletes. Getting a medal on the global stage. None of his competitors has run this many races by the end of February.
His nemesis on the African soil Akani Simbine has only raced once this year over the 60m. Fred Kerley (1), Noah Lyles (3), and Christian Coleman (2). Omanyala has raced three times more than his rivals already. And judging by his last season’s schedule, expect him to add a couple more leading into the world championships.
On the surface, it looks like the Kenyan is looking to put fear in his opponents as they build up towards the world championships, but on a deeper look feels like he’s doing it for the financial gains, which in itself is not entirely a bad thing. We all make sacrifices and from Omanyala’s point, he can potentially kill two birds with one stone. Run enough races on the circuit to make as much money in appearance fees while also winning a medal at the world championships in Budapest.
It’s a good objective to have. But how we see things in our head isn’t always how they pan out in reality. Omanyala’s missing out on his junior years and not officially breaking out until 2021 meant he didn’t get the best of shoe deal or endorsement. The only way to make up for that is to race more and make more. Simple.
The body, however, isn’t a machine. There is a reason some of the best sprinters of the sport condition their bodies to ensure it reaches their peak in a championship or Olympic year. Surely, there is a chance it all works out for Omanyala in the summer, but previous antecedent shows that he will most likely suffer burnout.
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