Kenya’s sensational sprinter and Africa’s fastest man Ferdinand Omurwa Omanyala has joined the National Police Service (NPS).
The 25-year-old athlete a second-year Bachelor of Science student at the University of Nairobi rose to stardom in Lagos Nigeria where he clocked 10.01 seconds on 30th March 2021 at an athletic event dubbed the ‘Making of Champions (MOC) Grand Prix’ where he met the qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The rugby-player-turned-sprinter warmed up hearts of Kenyans by clocking an impressive African best time of 9.77 seconds breaking the 9.85s record that had been set by Akuni Sembine from South Africa at the Kip-Keino Classics that was held at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in September.
Omanyala was briefed on his new role this morning when he called on the Inspector General, Mr. Hilary Mutyambai at his Jogoo house office.
The Kenya National Record holder joins a pool of other elite athletes in the National Police Service including the likes of David Rudisha, Joshua Kamworor, Vivian Cheruiyot, Julius Yego, and the legendary Ezekiel Kemboi etc.
Speaking at the brief ceremony, Omanyala thanked the National Police Service and the Government for supporting talent and he promised to repay this kindness with success in the track events.
‘It is an honor to serve the National Police Service and I promise to give my best as an athlete,” he added, ‘I also understand that there is life after sprinting.”
The IG urged Omanyala to maintain his sporting discipline for him to utilize his full potential and at the same time deliver on his new role as a police athlete.
Brother Colm O’Connell says it is a “tremendous honour” to receive an award from the Irish government for his work coaching athletes in Kenya.
The Catholic brother is among 11 recipients of this year’s Presidential Distinguished Service Award, which recognise the contributions of the Irish diaspora.
He has spent over 40 years coaching middle- and long-distance runners in the east African country, nurturing world and Olympic champions and world record holders including double Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha.
“It’s incredible and unbelievable that I should be selected,” O’Connell told BBC Sport Africa.
“It is the highest honour a person can get, especially people from the diaspora.
“I often wonder sometimes how somebody who lives in a remote village in Kenya can be singled out. It’s a tremendous honour and very, very special.”
A Catholic missionary in Iten
Originally from County Cork, Brother Colm’s association with Kenya began in 1976 when he joined the staff of St Patrick’s High School in Iten.
The school for boys, which was was set up by Irish missionaries and built on a hillside overlooking the Rift Valley, went on to establish a world-class track and field record.
Brother Colm’s first Olympic success came in 1988 when Peter Rono, then aged 21, became the youngest-ever winner of the 1500m at the Seoul Games.
Matthew Birir and Brimin Kipruto, both winners of the Olympic 3,000m steeplechase title, also worked under O’Connell.
He also developed female talent such as two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat and former world 800m champions Janeth Jepkosgei and Eunice Sum.
“The coaching of Kenyan athletes, and particularly in the area of youth – identifying young talent and nurturing it – has been very much part of my aim right from the beginning,” he said.
“I think that’s one area I really came very far in. The success at the top level came as a progression from the young people that I was coaching.
“Maybe one of the most satisfactory things was the development of the women athletes in my group. That is something that I’m very proud of.
“I would like to think that, as a person working in Kenya, I had an impact on young people’s lives through athletics – using it to add value to young people’s lives, to give them a future, hope and values.”
‘My biggest satisfaction is the lives I’ve impacted’
Brother Colm, now in his early 70s, has found a balance between keeping his Irish roots alive and embracing life in Kenya, he says.
“I’ve always felt part of my Irish community, and I think that has been a strength to me because there is strength in diversity,” he said.
“I’ve always felt very encouraged by the support I’ve been given by my family and community in Ireland. And of course, I had a very high level of integration into the Kenyan community.
“That has played a huge role in helping me to reach the level [I have], between being Irish and being Kenyan.”
He previously received a coaching achievement award from World Athletics in 2019 and also has a street named after him in Iten.
“I have been recognized locally, and I appreciate that,” he added.
“But I didn’t come to Iten to find an achievement. In a sense, my biggest satisfaction is the athletes themselves and the people’s lives I have impacted.”
Brother Colm will be presented with the award by Irish President Michael D. Higgins at a ceremony on 2 December.
Interview with Brother Colm O’Connell by BBC Sport Africa’s Lynne Wachira.
Olympic running greats came together on Saturday to bid farewell to rising Kenyan star Agnes Tirop, whose murder earlier this month sent shockwaves across the nation and the athletics world.
A double world championships bronze medallist tipped for future stardom on the track, Tirop was buried in a white casket in central Kenya on what would have been her 26th birthday.
Her body was found on October 13 with stab wounds in the bedroom of her home in Iten, a high-altitude training hub for top-class athletes.
Tirop’s husband appeared in court this week as a suspect in her killing after being arrested and remanded in custody.
Among the mourners gathered in Mosoriot, Tirop’s childhood village about 30 kilometres (18 miles) south of Eldoret, were two-time Kenyan Olympic champion David Rudisha and fellow gold medallists Joshua Cheptegei and Peruth Chemutai of Uganda.
Many in the congregation wore the signature red shirts of Athletics Kenya, which described Tirop as a “jewel” and one of the fastest-rising stars on the international running circuit.
Her death sparked outpourings of grief and condolences from Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, but also anger at a life taken so young.
Impassioned speakers at her funeral demanded swift justice for Tirop, and huge crowds marched in Eldoret on Friday calling for an end to violence against women.
Tirop’s death has thrown a spotlight on the pressures faced by the country’s female athletes who pay a huge — and often tragic — price for their spectacular success in a male-dominated society.
“The injustice against female athletes here in Kenya is a threat to all of us athletes all over the world,” said Olympic 5000 metres champion Cheptegei.
“We are here in solidarity to show that we condemn such acts in such a manner.”
Athletics Kenya announced on Saturday that the Kenyan leg of the World Cross Country Tour would be named after Tirop.
Born to a peasant farming family, Tirop launched her athletics career less than a decade ago but swiftly ran up a host of second-place finishes in national and international cross country races.
She went on to become one of Kenya’s rising stars — as the 2015 world cross-country champion, a two-time world medallist over 10000m, and came fourth over 5000m at the Tokyo Olympics this year.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has hinted that athletes transition is the best idea a country and a federation can ever have.
Speaking on Tuesday at the Kasarani stadium ahead of world under 20 athletics championships at the Moi International Sports Cenre, Kasarani, Coe said that the main challenge at the world athletics is maintaining the transition.
Despite the world going through the COVID-19 challenges, they could not go for more than five years without the junior championships.
“We always have such great athletes in the under 18 and under 20 but a few of them fail to represent their country or federations as senior athletes. I want to urge coaches and federations to ensure a good transition. Athletes should be inspired and federations funded to help junior athletes to deliver. To achieve this, we have to be keen, maintaining the relationship with coaches to spend time with them, especially training athletes at a young age of 18 years to senior ranks,” said Coe, the former 800m Olympic Games champion.
He added that coaches have a difficult time in preparing such great athletes especially for the schools and talents.
“We always support federation whenever they have initiative to engage coaches, especially those who want transit into senior coaching, by impressing them to take athletes to greater heights, “added Coe.
However, on a light note, Coe pointed out that it pains the world 800m record holder David Rudisha who broke his world record.
“It pains me to say so but on a light note, but Rudisha did marvelously during the London Olympic Games in 2021. He started from such championships way back in 2006 and went on to win major championships,” said Coe adding that the championships are the big moment for the athletics calendar of the year in athletics where over a 1000 athletes that include Refugee team.
He rekindled the 2017 world under 18 championships at the same venue that connected, describing it as ‘fantastic’.
“It is unfortunate, with obvious reasons that we will not have the noisy passionate informed fans that Kenyans athletics has always produced. Nothingness, this will be an outstanding championship. Athletics in Kenya is a religion and my career was so defined by great Kenyan athletes and there were so many medalists from such championships from credible levels,” he said.
Kenya’s Emmanuel Korir gave Kenya its first gold medal when he won the men’s 800m final at the ongoing Tokyo Olympic games.
The 26-year-old athlete, who is the sixth-fastest 800m runner of all time, stormed to the front to take an impressive gold when he crossed the line in 1:45.ahead of teammate Ferguson Rotich who pulled 1:45.23 to take the silver medal.
Poland’s Patryk Dobek closed the first three podium finishes when he crossed the line in 1:45.39.
There was a big disappointment for Botswana’s Nijel Amos – the fastest man in the world this year over 800m – who finished eighth in 1:46.41.
There was always going to be a new gold medallist in the 800m, after double Olympic champion (London 2012 and Rio 2016) and world record holder David Rudisha withdrew from contention due to injury in May.
World 800m record holder ‘King’ David Rudisha will captain Africa’s team for Continental Cup in Ostrava, Czech Republic on September 8-9.
Rudisha replaces the 1997 and 2001 400m hurdles champion Moroccan hurdler Nezha Bidouane who initially considered for the role.
Rudisha who will not be competing in the event will lead the African team based on the changes brought by the IAAF in its format of selecting captains.
In the new format each team will have a legendary athlete as an honorary captain:
Africa: David Lekuta Rudisha, 2012, 2016 Olympic gold medalist and 2011, 2015 world 800m champion
Americas: Mike Powell, 1991 and 1993 world long jump champion and world record-holder
Asia-Pacific: Jana Pittman, 2003 and 2007 world 400m hurdles champion
Europe: Colin Jackson, 1993 and 1999 world 110m hurdles champion.
It is the third edition of the IAAF Continental Cup since the name and format was changed from the IAAF World Cup.
World 800m record holder David Rudisha, four-time world champion Ezekiel Kemboi and Olympics 5,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot have been inducted into the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Hall of Fame.
The three athletes who have one thing in common besides their feats at both national and international, they are all Olympic gold medalists in their respective races.
This accolade was bestowed at the welcoming Dinner for athletes and officials participating at the 21st edition of the African Athletics Championships that is being held in Asaba, Nigeria.
According to Nigerian newspaper The Punch, out of the 16 inductees only two were in attendance – Nigerian Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor and Olusoji Fasuba.
The publicationcontinued saying that the event started five hours late, which forced athletes to stay away.
The Publication further reported that the Ethiopians and Kenyans did not attend as they arrived in Asaba late on Tuesday after being stranded in Lagos for two days.
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe, CAA President Kalkaba Malboum and members of his executive committee, State Governor Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, and top government officials at Federal and State level, diplomats and the LOC led by its Chairman Solomon Ogba graced the occasion.
Ethiopia inductees were led by world record holder and champion Genzebe Dibabaa, Almaz Ayana an Olympics and World Champions and long distance legend Kenenisa Bekele.
Other Ethiopians who were inducted are World Champion Tirunesh Dibaba and former world 5000m record holder Mesert Defar.
South Africa duo of Caster Semanya and Wayde van Niekerk both Olympics and World Champions were also inducted though Nieker is still is still recovering from a knee injury, which he sustained during a celebrity rugby match last year.
Kenya’s Emmanuel Korir performance in London has left many fans dreaming of how fast he can run, but the 23-year-old says this week’s African Championships in Asaba, Nigeria, will be a major test.
The Kenyan excelled at the London Diamond League a week ago clocking a time of 1:42:05 in the men’s 800m, which stands out as the fastest in the world since 2012 and puts him sixth on the world all-time list, a front-running exhibition reminiscent of David Rudisha’s world record, Olympic gold medal-winning run on the same track five years earlier.
“I accosted Nijel Amos to see if he could run at the front to maybe like 600 meters, but he was telling me that he wasn’t feeling good,” explains Korir.
Amos had run 1:42:14 in Monaco in early July. “So I had to take a risk. I was feeling like maybe I could lose the race, but I thought, ‘no, let’s try it: I’m going to hold it’. And that is how it happened.”
Now his focus is on the Africa championships, which starts on Wednesday in Asaba, Nigeria. “Heats, semis and finals, it will not be easy,” says Korir, pondering a rematch with Botswana’s Nijel Amos. “1:42 is not satisfying. If I get some guys who are strong and can push me all the way to the finish line, it will be crazy.” Korir won the Kenyan title at the 400m distance.
Korir built a reputation on the U.S. collegiate circuit, where he went on an unbeaten run that lasted a year and included a world indoor best of 1:14:47 over 600m, and indoor and outdoor NCAA titles. That streak didn’t stop away from U.S. shores.
First he won the Kenyan trials, beating the likes of 2016 IAAF Diamond League champion Ferguson Rotich, to confirm his spot at the World Championships. Then, on his IAAF Diamond League debut, he destroyed a world-class field by more than a second in Monaco sizzling to a 1:43.10, the fastest time of 2017.
But the rounds in London proved to be too difficult. Although he won his heat, in the next day’s semis he came in fourth.
His undefeated season and World Championships campaign were wrecked. Talking from massage table 11 months on from that ignominy, his feelings couldn’t be more different. “Last year, when I was in London, I was so disappointed. But right now? I think I like it,” Korir recalls.
World 800m record holder David Rudisha, four-time world champion Ezekiel Kemboi and Olympics 5,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot, will be inducted into the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Hall of Fame.
The three athletes have one thing in common besides their feats at both national and international, they are all Olympic gold medalists in their respective races.
This accolade will be bestowed at the welcoming Dinner for athletes and officials participating at the 21st African Athletics Championships, Asaba 2018.
The event, organised by CAA and Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency is slated for July 31, 2018 at the Event Center, Asaba.
Nigeria’s golden girl, Blessing Okagbare and her team members who won Nigeria’s 4×200 gold at the 2016 IAAF World Relay in Bahamas will be inducted into the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Hall of Fame.
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe, CAA President Kalkaba Malboum and members of his executive committee, State Governor Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, and top government officials at Federal and State level, diplomats and the LOC led by its Chairman Solomon Ogba will grace the occasion.
Ethiopia follows Nigeria with the highest number of athletes to be inducted. The list includes world record holder and champion Genzebe Dibabaa, Almaz Ayana an Olympics and World Champions and long distance legend Kenenisa Bekele.
Other Ethiopians on the list are, World Champion Tirunesh Dibaba and former world 5000m record holder Mesert Defar from Ethiopia will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
South Africa duo of Caster Semanya and Wayde van Nieckert both Olympics and World Champions will also be inducted.