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He’s done it! Omanyala wins Kenya’s first gold in Birmingham

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022 23:43 | By
Ferdinand Omanyala competing at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games PHOTO/N-OCK

Ferdinand Omanyala has finally delivered the elusive gold for Kenya after he whizzed past his competitors to win the men's 100m.

Africa's fastest man Omanyala clocked 10.02 seconds to dislodge Akani Simbine (10.07) of South Africa who settled for silver with Sri Lankan Yupun Abeykoon claiming bronze.

Just over a week ago, Omanyala had a disastrous outing at the World Athletics Championships held in Oregon but that did not make him sulk as he promised to make Kenyans smile and he did just that.

Better preparations for the Commonwealth Games meant that he had one job to do, confirm that he is indeed the greatest ever sprinter from the continent and he did it in style.

Before the final, Omanyala knew exactly what to expect, stiff challenge from Akani Simbine who was the defending champion from the 2018 Games held in Gold Coast, Australia.

The rivalry between the two has now become a household topic and it is the Kenyan Omanyala who has always come on top in the last two years. 

At the second edition of the Kip Keino Classic, Omanyala broke Simbine’s African record by 0.01 of a second, setting 9.77 as the fastest time ever posted on African soil by any sprinter. In June, Omanyala beat Simbine in the Africa Senior Athletics championships held in Mauritius and Tuesday night was a day when everyone wanted to see who Omanyala really was. Simbine of course is more experienced but the natural talent of Omanyala once again came to play and the Kenyan even shared some niceties with Simbine in Birmingham. 

"Simbine showed us the way as Africans, so I have deep respect for him. It is nice to have had him come ahead of me and we have a great relationship - he is like a brother to me,” Omanyala told BBC Sport.

When time for the final of the 100m came, all eyes were on Omanyala in lane number three and Simbine in lane number four. The two ‘brothers’ did not look under so much pressure before take off and when the gun went off, it was the Kenyan who decided to take matters into his own hands.

Omanyala raced clear after 30 metres and that would be the case as Simbine and co played catch up. On  realizing that he was clear, Omanyala spread his arms and sprinted half the length of the pitch in jubilation, perhaps a sigh of relief following the events from the last two weeks. As usual, selfies are a common thing and the jovial Omanyala did not hesitate taking a few with the fans and this summarized Kenya’s night after a rather strange day where the ladies failed to recapture the 10000m crown.  

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