Ferdinand Omanyala Omurwa, 25

Sprinter

My Story

Kenyan sprinter Omanyala has been one of the most outstanding athletes this year. He raced into history books, and at no less than on the biggest stage—the Olympics Games- becoming the fastest man in Africa, the second-fastest over 100 metres in the world this season, and the eighth all-time fastest in the world.

Only Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay, Yohan Blake, Asafa Powel, Justin Gatlin, Christian Coleman, and Trayvon Bromell come ahead of him in the list of all-time fastest athletes. Yet most of these stars are his idols and seniors of the 25-year-old.

“Bolt, Blake, and Gatlin are my idols. I grew up watching them compete and it feels good to be mentioned in the same breath as them.”

He became the first Kenyan to reach the semi-finals of 100m race at the Olympics, running under 10 seconds.

"“Bolt, Blake, and Gatlin are my idols. I grew up watching them compete and it feels good to be mentioned in the same breath as them.”"

He had signaled his intent before the big performance when he broke the national record five times within four months. It was an impressive feat, only comparable to the Kenyan distance running legend Henry Rono who set four world records in 81 days in 1978.

But his rise to the top has not been smooth. Omanyala had to fight to clear his name after he was handed a 14-month ban for unknowingly taking medication that contained a banned substance.

Besides sprinting, he is a talented rugby player.

James Mwamba