African ChampionThe USA finally grants him a visa on the eve of the Worlds
Claiming the podium in the 100m, the Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala, African record holder, should finally be able to participate in the Worlds which begin on Friday, in the United States.
To participate in the 2022 World Athletics Championships, Ferdinand Omanyala is in a race against time: the Kenyan, holder of the African 100m record, finally obtained his visa for the United States on Thursday, in extremis. He planned to fly Thursday evening and hopes to reach Eugene in Oregon in time to be at the start of his competition which begins Friday evening, with the playoffs.
Omanyala experienced the equivalent of a false start. Early Thursday morning, he announced to AFP that he had to give up the World Championships because he had not received his visa for the United States in time.
“Even if I get a visa today, it’s too late,” explained the third best performer of the year in the 100m with his 9”85 achieved in May behind the Americans Fred Kerley and Trayvon Bromell. “That would mean taking night flights and my competition starts (Friday). It’s over. There is nothing I can do,” he added.
Omanyala, 26, quickly made up his mind and even began to plan for his next big event of the year, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham from July 28 to August 8. “I accept the situation (…) I will watch the races (Worlds) in Oregon, I hope it will go better for me at the next World Championships in Budapest in 2023”, he explained.
Three hours later, a dramatic turn of events: his trainer announces that his protege has obtained his visa and will take part in Eugene’s big meeting. “Omanyala was called to the Ministry of Sports this (Thursday) morning and given the visa to travel. He should take the flight this (Thursday) evening to arrive in Oregon tomorrow morning,” Duncan Ayiemba told AFP.
A first race on Friday
According to his coach, Omanyala could arrive in time for his first race, with the 100m heats starting Friday at 6:50 p.m. local time (Saturday 01:50 GMT) “He will have a few hours to rest before competing in the 100m heats and maybe qualify for the semi-finals and finals” which are scheduled for Saturday, said the coach.
Is this the end point of a hectic day? Nothing is less certain, but Omanyala, who became the fastest African sprinter in history in 2021 with his 9”77, is used to experiencing ups and downs.
At the Tokyo Games last summer, he was the first athlete from Kenya, a country known for its long-distance runners, to reach an Olympic semi-final in the 100m. His rise for a year has aroused astonishment, sometimes even suspicion towards an athlete suspended for 14 months in 2017 after a positive test for betamethasone, a corticosteroid.