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Johnson tips Omanyala for greatness

The four-time Olympic champion Micheal Johnson has backed Africa’s fastest man Ferdinand Omanyala to conquer on the international stage and become the first man from the African continent to win a gold medal in 100m ahead of World Athletics Championship set for Budapest in Hungary.

Johnson – an athlete once so supreme that he was known as Superman said the 27 year-old Omanyala’s bulky physique is well-suited for the sprints dominance and will work in his favour during the upcoming championships and beyond.

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“Said it before. I believe Omanyala will be the first African to win a 100m World Champs medal. His muscular structure provides tremendous power but do any coaches or sport science experts out there think it could become a limiting factor in his ability to sprint efficiently?” he tweeted

The American sprinter is considered the most eminent figure in athletics (track and field) in the 1990s.

For much of the decade he was virtually unbeaten in the long sprints—the 200-metre and 400-metre races—and at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta he became the first man to win gold medals at both distances; he also set Olympic marks in both events.

In 1991 he lowered the world indoor mark at 200 metres, winning that event outdoors at the world championships. He won his first Olympic medal at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, as a member of the 4 × 400-metre relay team that set the world record, which he helped to lower again the following year.

The third quickest man in the world Omanyala is optimistic a few weeks before athletics’ biggest event.

The current African Record holder warned his rivals they should know something big awaits them during the championship that will be held from Saturday, August 19 to Sunday, August 27 in Hungary.

“I already qualified for Budapest a long time ago, but it feels nice to have run 9.85 here. It was a surprise, but the focus is on Budapest, and I feel better prepared than I was for Oregon 2022,” said Omanyala.

“I have been looking for chances to compete, and now I have them, which is good. I am prepared to run two races a month.

“I am also a big boy now. I see people running good times, and others are dropping out of the race for Budapest. My opponents should know what awaits them in Budapest,” Omanyala said after his participation in the trials at the Nyayo Stadium.

In 2015, Omanyala began his athletics career in Kenya as a chemistry student the University of Nairobi. He made this move after a friend noticed his speed while he was playing rugby. He made the switch from rugby to track and only a few weeks later he ran a time of 10.4 s in his first AK meet in Kakamega.

“I was a rugby player and a very fast winger,” Omanyala told DW after he won the African title. “So to change to sprint was something that I dreamt of. It’s interesting to do something different that nobody in Kenya is doing because it means my people will treasure me; which is why I decided on sprinting, and it has brought me this far.”

His coach, Duncan Ayiemba, whom he still trains with in Kenya, thinks Omanyala’s curiosity and hard work proved pivotal.

“He was hard working, dedicated, curious and ready to learn while also challenging me with his effort and growth day by day,” Ayiemba said to DW.

Omanyala won the men’s 100m at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on the new athletics track at the Alexander Stadium. A packed-out crowd roared on the finalists in the penultimate event with the Kenyan blasting out the blocks to win comfortably in a time of 10.02s.

A total of 57 athletes (32 men and 25 women) will fly the Kenyan flag in the Hungarian capital under the tutelage of head coach Julius Kirwa.

The Central European nation will host the premier annual global showpiece at the brand new National Athletics Centre on the eastern bank of the Danube River on the south side of Budapest.

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