Kenyan sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala has been very outspoken about his specialty. Before his entry into the 100m race, he took aim at the Americans and Jamaicans, who are often considered the masters of this distance.
Kenya has a reputation for being strong in long-distance races, yet it produces sprinters. But in these sprint races, the country is struggling to exist for the time being. They are much more expected in the long distance races. However, in Tokyo, for the Olympic Games, two 100m runners are hoping to change the perception.
Ferdinand Omanyala and Mark Otieno believe they can spring a surprise in the most open race for many years after Usain Bolt's retirement.
Winning a medal will make them legendary. For it will be the first time the country has had competitors in the 100m. "Most people in the world don't believe Kenyans can sprint. But we are slowly changing that," said coach Bernard Ouma.
Omanyala, who holds the national record with a time of 10'01, qualified for the Kenyan Olympic trials last month. "It's not just about the Jamaicans and the US (sprinting). They're not made of steel, they don't use gas. It's just in the mind. Change your mind and everything changes," Omanyala tackles
Omanyala's road to Tokyo was not an easy one. The latter had, however, served a 14-month suspension imposed by the Kenya Anti-Doping Agency in 2017. So he had to fight the officials to get his way.
"Americans don't run on petrol"
Otieno, who has a best of 10''05, is also convinced that the time is right to crush the Jamaican and American teams. "At the moment you can't say who will win the race. There can be surprises next week. Because anything can happen," notes Otieno. "I can't wait to get to the final and see who wins the medals," he continued. Although he looks to American Trayvon Bromell as an inspiration.
Omanyala hopes to get under 10 seconds in Tokyo. "I don't care what kind of time it is: 9'60, 9'50, I'll do it," he promises. "I'm not afraid of anyone," Omanyala said. "I'm going into this race knowing that I'm also like those guys (the Jamaicans and the Americans). We are all qualified," the Kenyan boldly continued. "I can win the race. Why not?" he concluded.
For this 100m event, the American Bromell is the great favourite. This year he was the fastest in 9'77. However, he is far from Usain Bolt's Olympic record of 9'58.