Nairobi — Commonwealth Games 100m champion Ferdinand Omanyala believes fellow Kenyan sprinter Samuel Imeta can scale the highest levels of his career so long as he remains disciplined and focused.
Omanyala clocked a world lead of 9.81 in the men's 100m at the past weekend's Athletics Kenya Track and Field Weekend Meeting at Nyayo Stadium, with Imeta timing 9.94 in second as South African Henricho Bruintjies coming third in 10.22.
It was the first time in Imeta's career that he's clocked a sub-10 and Africa's fastest man hopes this is the beginning of glory days for his countryman who works for the Kenya Defence Forces.
"Yeah it is, (more to come from Imeta). He just needs to remain disciplined. I was with him (as part of the 4x100m relay team in Mauritius) so I know what he is capable of. I think this was his first race this year...hopefully, he can get more races so he can drop the time even further," Omanyala said.
The duo were part of the Kenyan quartet that struck gold in the men's 4x100m relay at last June's Senior Africa Athletics Championships in Reduit, Mauritius - the other two being Dan Kiviasi and Mike Mokamba.
Omanyala said he is looking forward to a reunion of the gang as they gear up for the World Relay Championships in Bahamas as well as the Paris Olympics, both scheduled for next year.
"We are looking forward to having the whole contingent of the 4x100m relay team at the Olympics next year. We start off by maybe medaling at the World Relay Championships in Bahamas next year. That will be the next goal...with that we hope to inspire more upcoming sprinters," the African 100m record holder said.
With the men's 100m competition at the weekend meeting attracting hundreds of sprinters across 24 heats, Omanyala is envisioning a scenario where there will be a conveyor belt of talent in this race category for the foreseeable future.
"At some point I will exit the scene...I will not be here forever. So, it is really good to see that there are more sprinters coming up and they are recording some good times. That's the plan...to have more sprinters and not just to leave a gap when we leave the scene," he said.
Personally, Omanyala revealed he has a crowded in-tray, which includes the World Championships in Budapest, the Diamond League series as well as the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold.
"It feels nice...we are on the right track because we are the targeting the World Champs and the Diamond League final. We just need to maintain the same tempo so when August comes around, we will still be in shape," the Kitale-born said.
He added: "I think after this, the plan is to go off for one-and-a-half months and then I have a race in South Africa and then the Botswana Continental Tour before the Kip Keino Classic."
In 2021, Omanyala etched himself in history books when he clocked an African record of 9.77 during the second edition of the Kip Keino Classic at the Moi Stadium, Kasarani.
He believes it is not a matter of when and not if he will lower the record once more.
"Yeah, it won't take long...so every time I compete, I urge you all to just watch it because it would be sad to miss that opportunity to see it live. I don't think it is going to take more than three months," he said.
Newest nine-second man
The newest nine-second sprinter in Kenya, Imeta, credited his latest achievement to a proper build-up season compared to last year.
"I think this year I have had the opportunity for a proper build-up in contrast to last year. There is more to come...in the next meeting, I will be looking to reduce my time further," Imeta said.
He further confessed that competing against Omanyala had brought out the best in him.
"The race hasn't been easy. I am so happy to have clocked my first sub-10 and I thank God for the achievement. More is certainly expected (of me) going ahead," he said.
The next leg of the AK Track and Field Weekend meeting is set for Thika in April.