Visa hitch hits Omanyala
Africa 100m champion Ferdinand Omanyala is optimistic that the visa hitch that delayed his travel to Oregon for the World Athletics Championships, will not affect his pursuit for a medal at the global showpiece.
The athlete was yesterday racing against time to be in Oregon on time for his preliminary sprints race set for tomorrow’s opening day of the championships and by the time we went to press he was yet to receive his visa.
“I am a warrior; so for me what matters is getting to Oregon. As long as I get to the Start Line before the gun, I will give my best,” Omanyala told People Sport.
He added: “We are still waiting and we have been promised the visas will be ready any time.”
Senior Athletics Kenya official Barnaba Korir confirmed the hitch, but said it would be handled in good time.
“All the team officials have visas, apart from Omanyala and the overall Team Manager David Bunei, but we are confident they will be sorted swiftly. The problem arose from how the two responded to some questions at the US Embassy because applying for the US visa is normally a personal affair, but all will be ok,” Korir told People Sport.
Omanyala’s race is set for Saturday 8:30 am Kenyan time which is Friday 10.30pm in Oregon. The heats are scheduled for 2:50pm Kenyan time on Saturday.
Omanyala is a favorite to reach the semis which will be run at 2pm Kenyan time on Sunday and potentially 3:50pm final on the same day.
The athlete was initially earmarked to travel with the first batch of 23 that included 19 athletes left the country aboard three different flights Qatar Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Lufthansa Airlines on Tuesday. He also missed the second batch that left on Wednesday morning.
The 26-year-old is worried that he is facing another race of his life, to get a visa for his first ever World Championship appearance.
“It takes almost 22 hours to get there and as a sportsman you need sometime to rest and also train a bit to shake the jet lag. Looking at all circumstances and my first race being on Friday, I am just hoping I can leave today (Wednesday) so that I get there Thursday night and rest up a bit,” he added.
He is hopeful that he will be able to get his visa on time and travel to chase his dream of a World Championship medal.
“I will still remain focused. These are challenges that as an athlete you need mental strength to overcome. Hopefully I get there and put on a show as always,” he added.
Omanyala had said he targets to reach the final at the World Championships and vie for any medal, having reached the semis of both the Olympic Games and the World Indoor Championships earlier this year.
Team manager Rono Bunei Bunei said the visa issue was being addressed.
“It’s creating anxiety knowing that the event starts on Friday and we have some flights to connect to our final destination,” said Bunei.
Bunei added that it will be tough for Omanyala to gear up for his races now as he will now not be in Oregon later on Wednesday as originally scheduled.