Ferdinand Omanyala Omurwa: Profile of Athlete Making History in Tokyo Olympics

An Undated Image of Kenyan Sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala.
Kenyan Sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala posing for a photo during his trials at Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani in August 2020.

On Saturday, July 31, Ferdinand Omanyala Omurwa made history when he became the first Kenyan to qualify for the 100m Olympic semi-final.

Ferdinand qualified for the 100m semi-finals in the Tokyo 2021 Olympics after finishing third in Heat 5 after clocking 10.01 seconds, equaling his national record.

However, it was not until 2016 that he decided to join athletics as he had his heart and mind in another sport.

Ferdinand Omanyala competes in 100m heat during the second leg of Athletics Kenya (AK) Relay
Ferdinand Omanyala competes in 100m heat during the second leg of Athletics Kenya (AK) Relay

Omanyala was born on January 2, 1996 in Bungoma County. Although little is known about his primary school education, he qualified to join secondary school and was admitted to Friends School Kamusinga in 2010 after which he joined the University of Nairobi.

It was at this school that he began his sporting career. Omanyala joined the school's rugby team in 2012 when he was in Form 3, making an impression to scouts from the national team.

"After high school, I was called to play for the Under-20 (U20) Kenya Sevens but then coming back here in Nairobi, there were no trials [sic]," the sprinter revealed during a past interview with a local tv station.

This made him give up on his dream on playing for the national team. A friend who noticed his speed as a rugby winger challenged him to try out short races.

Omanyala initially trained with a rugby coach before being picked up by an ex-sprinter: Duncan Ayiemba in 2016. This was the hallmark of his athletic career as he went on to join Kenya's athletics team in 2017.

Nonetheless, his journey has not been entirely smooth. The sprinter was sanctioned by Anti-doping Agency of Kenya on doping allegations in over doping allegations in 2017.

After serving his ban, he returned to the tracks in 2018. His race to join the world's elite sprinters was met by yet another hurdle when he injured his back.

Omanyala's second coming in 2019 saw him clinch the 100m national title. He proceeded to train with his coach during the coronavirus pandemic sharpening his skills and technique. 

The UoN pharmaceutical chemistry student clocked 10.11 seconds in the second Athletics Kenya relay series on January 23, 2021 setting the fastest time in Kenya for the men's 100-metre race. However, his record was not ratified amid claims of being assisted by the wind.
Kenya's fastest man, who is inspired by Jamaica's Yohan Blake, has his eyes on running sub-10 (seconds).

Ferdinand Omanyala.
Ferdinand Omanyala.