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What Led Ferdinand Omanyala to Bankruptcy?

Published 02/29/2024, 9:14 AM EST

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Kenyan sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala became an overnight sensation in 2022 when he won his first international title at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. The national record holder in the 60m race, Omanyala, still faced some unexpected challenges during the formative days of his career. The fastest man in Africa went bankrupt at one stage but managed to turn things around through his resolve and some help from a loved one.

Honor and glory aren’t the only things that come athletes’ way when their professional careers take flight. Financial compensation for their efforts is also a significant incentive that continues to motivate players to maintain their A-game on international stages. For Omanyala, getting back on his feet wasn’t an easy journey.

Ferdinand Omanyala was down in the doldrums with no money after doping ban

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Beginning his track and field career at the age of 20, Ferdinand was already running late compared to his peers both in the country as well as on international stages. And yet, he showed his determination to make it to the top despite having crossed the starting line with a time penalty already added. In his first Athletics Kenya meet in 2015, Omanyala clocked 10.4 to announce his triumphant arrival on the scene.

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The same year, he won the national Olympics trials over the 100 m distance in a time of 10.37s but never met the qualifying standard for the Olympics which was 10.16s. However, his career came to an unexpected halt in 2017 after Omanyala was found guilty of doping.

As a result, a 14-month suspension decision was levied upon the rising star. Naturally, the verdict came as a blow to Ferdinand’s bustling career. Despite serving and completing his doping ban, his hopes of representing Kenya in the Tokyo Olympics and other events were quashed by AK.

Unable to compete at events, he scurried to find a way to turn the setback around with the thought of his family’s dependence on him. Come COVID 19, he was practically penniless.

During this period, Omanyala trained hard to reclaim his coveted status among his peers as well as his fans. In 2019 Omanyala won the national title in the 100 metres. On 30 March 2021, he set a national record of 10.01 seconds in the 100 m in winning a meeting at Yabatech Sport Complex in Lagos, Nigeria. A reprieve allowed him to qualify for the Olympics where he made history.

In Tokyo, he became the first Kenyan to run in the semifinals of the men’s 100m at the Olympics, where he lowered his own national record from 10.01 to 10.00. In the same month, he ran a new personal best of 9.86 seconds in Austria, becoming the first Kenyan to ever break the 10-second barrier. But his return to the top was not only of his own efforts.

His girlfriend Laventa Amutavi helped him get back on his feet and he was thankful for all the help she provided.

“Took care of the bills,” Omanyala disclosed how his girlfriend helped in his tough times

I trained for six months without any competing“, stated Omanyala in an interview with Nairobi Wire in 2021. However, his problems were made somewhat easier to cope with thanks to his girlfriend Mutavi. I had no money, my girlfriend Laventa Mutavi took care of the bills. She paid rent and bought food. She handed me her salary to cater for major bills in the house. revealed Ferdinand. Because of her contributions to his family’s well-being, Omanyala made it clear that his sole focus now is to take care of Lavesh in every way possible.

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“She has been part of this journey, now I want to take care of her. She’ll get what she wants,” he added. Amutavi is herself an athlete being a sprinter and a long jumper.

Hard work, discipline and perseverance are the three main components of success“, Omanyala didn’t hesitate to confess. In 2022 he became the first Kenyan to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in the 100m.

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While his sprint at the 2023 World Championships 100m event saw him finishing the race seventh he has already outlined his plans for the Paris Olympics stating he wants to compete and qualify for the 200m race. It remains to be seen if the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics come bearing more gifts for Africa’s prodigy.

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Written by:

Diptarko Paul

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Diptarko Paul is a senior Olympic Sports Correspondent at EssentiallySports. This state-level swimmer decided to dive deep into the world of Olympics. From writing various aspects of swimming to diving deep in the world of NCAA division 1 Volleyball, Diptarko covers it all.
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Edited by:

Himanshu Sridhar