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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Nick off time: Kenyan ranks in the world, 100 . moves on

Eugene, Ore. ( Associated Press) – For 10.10 seconds, Ferdinand Omanayala forgot all about the visa issues that almost kept him at home, the jet lags behind an international flight and his mad dash from the airport to the track just to start it Line up on time.

Once the Kenyan runner crossed the finish line, however, exhaustion hit him hard.

Next stop: the bed.

But at least the Omanyala can sleep soundly on Friday night knowing he has reached the semi-final round of the 100 meters at the world championships.

“I never knew I was tired until I ran that race,” said Omanyala, who advanced one night when Fred Kerli turned the fastest time at 9.79 seconds. “It was disappointing (visa issues). But you have to put the challenges aside. You have to come here and run.”

Due to the delay in getting the visa, it was just a race for him to make it. He was really resigned to sitting it out.

But his paperwork was cleared in the last hour and his team quickly scrambled to book the flight. It was quite a trek too – flights from Nairobi to Doha, then to Seattle, and finally to Eugene and one last ride to Hayward Field. In total, he spent about 20 hours in planes. It does not include layover.

He received an upgrade – to business class. This made sleeping a little easier. However, as a way to warm up, don’t run down the aisles. He drank a lot of water.

Omanyala reached the track about two hours before his 100 race. He was placed seventh out of seven heats, giving him some extra time to stretch out. He finished third in his heat, which was good enough to make him through to the semi-finals.

“It’s exhausting and it’s mentally torture too,” Omanyala said of his ordeal. “If you’re not strong enough, you’ll crumble.”

This is hardly a normal routine for the Omanyala, who prefers to arrive about three or four days before an event.

“It was just different,” he said. “It was the first. I’ve never been in a situation like this before.”

His case was one of about 375 that were flagged to local organizers, World Athletics and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee. World Athletics officials said less than 1% of the 5,500 participants and officials who visited Eugene still had visa issues on the eve of the championships.

In Omanyala’s eyes, this is too much. He is hoping that visa issues won’t be a holdup when the next big meeting takes place in the US – the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

“They need to learn from it and do better next time,” he said.

His rivals were certainly impressed by his quick turnaround. It is also a risk-reward proposition. Long plane rides and not enough water are a combination for hamstring pulls. American Marvin Bracey, who won the first heat, developed a similar situation before the Diamond League race in Europe. He chose not to go.

“Because we know how dangerous it can be,” Bracey said. “Coming out here and competing at that high level, it’s kind of scary.”

Omanyala got a lift at Hayward Field to applause.

“It’s nice when you see so many fans cheering you on,” said Omanyala, who has a season-best time of 9.85 seconds. “I definitely felt high.”

As he was talking in the mixed field, a runner from the Netherlands overtook him and simply said: “Hero.”

A tired one at that.

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More Associated Press Sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

World Nation News Desk
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