Fueled by the desire for gold, Africa’s fastest man Ferdinand Omanyala, soared through the skies towards Budapest, Hungary, where the grand stage of the 2023 World Athletics Championships awaited him.
His thoughts echoed with a single goal – to seize the coveted gold medal, not just for himself but for Kenya and the entire African continent, the first-ever.
Omanyala had carved his path to Budapest by conquering the 100m race during the two-day trials at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi in July.
“The biggest target I have set this year is to go into the final and win that gold. It has never happened for Kenya and Africa since the start of the World Championships and that is one thing I want to write history, when we get to Budapest,” Omanyala told TV47.
Yet, as the days unfolded beneath the Hungarian sky, fate spun an unforeseen twist. Despite his dedication and energy, the Diamond League champion found himself thwarted on the track, relegated to a heart-wrenching seventh-place finish.
The three-time national champion clocked 10.07 seconds as he gazed upon America’s Noah Lyles running away with ‘his ought to be’ gold medal in a time of 9.83 seconds.
In the aftermath of this bittersweet ordeal, Omanyala reflected on his journey; better than Oregon 2022 where he bowed out in the semi-finals but short of expectations in Budapest.
“I really can’t tell what happened today because my body just wasn’t firing from the semis like I did yesterday. We just have to go back and see what happened, where to correct, and what to do best next time,” he said after the race.
The podium may have eluded the 27-year-old this time, but he does not return to Kenya empty-handed. Alongside his fellow finalists, he returns home with pockets heavier by thousands of dollars.
This seventh-place finish secured him a $6,000 bounty, equivalent to a resounding 865,760 Kenyan shillings. Meanwhile, Noah Lyles, the gold medal winner, claimed a princely sum of $70,000.
Budapest also bore witness to history in the making, as Botswana’s teenage sensation, Letsile Tebogo, surged to a podium finish in a time of 9.99 seconds.
Tebogo dashed to second place to eternally engrave his name as the first African to seize a men’s 100m medal at the World Athletics Championships.
As the clock ticks towards the end of the biennial sporting spectacle a staggering sum of $8,498,000 in prize money is on offer in Budapest.