Kenyan sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala has defended the government over last week’s visa delay that nearly saw him miss out on the 2022 World Athletics Championship in Oregon, USA.
The 26-year-old Africa’s fastest man was granted his US Visa on July 14th and arrived in Eugene, Oregon at 2.30 am, less than three hours before his race at 4.50 am.
He left Nairobi on Thursday at 6.00 pm aboard a Qatar airlines flight that took five hours to Doha, from where he boarded another 17-hour connecting flight to Seattle, Washington. He then took another one-and-half-hour flight to Eugene.
The Ministry of Sports came under fire from Kenyans following Omanyala’s visa delay, with many blaming it for the sprinter’s travel woes.
But in a statement on Friday, Omanyala absolved the government of blame, saying that Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed's intervention was instrumental in him securing the visa.
"Like I said, there is no one to blame on my VISA delay. We all as athletes went for VISA interviews to the embassy. After that I was sent supplementary questions that needed clarification. But on Thursday, a day before my race, my VISA was not out," he clarified.
"It was through Government Intervention by the Ministry of Sports and Athletics Kenya that I got my VISA. In fact, the Ministry of Sports through CS Amb. Amina were instrumental in my VISA being granted once the issue was raised."
Despite arriving late in Eugene, Omanyala overcame jetlag to qualify for the semis after finishing third in the seventh heat. He clocked 10.10 seconds behind Japan's Sani Brown (9.98 seconds) and Edward Osei-Nketia of New Zealand.
Omanyala was not lucky in the semis as he ranked fifth in a time of 10.14 seconds to bow out of the championships.