Italy has been kind to Kenya’s Commonwealth Games 100 metres champion Ferdinand Omanyala who now refers to the European nation as his “second home.”
After finishing second in the Italian city of Florence in Friday’s Diamond League round, Omanyala pitched camp in Italy ahead of his Paris Diamond League assignment this Friday where he will renew his rivalry with American showman Fred Kerley for the third time this season.
Omanyala finished third in Rabat and second in Florence with Kerley winning both races.
The Kenyan star now hopes he can keep rising and go one better in Paris, ending Kerley’s dominance.
In fact, Omanyala, who is also the African 100m champion and record holder, wowed the Italian crowds when he competed at International Meeting Citta' Di Savona in Lucca on Sunday evening.
He literally jogged to the finish line, winning in a meet record time of 10.13 seconds, beating Cuban Yenns Fernández and Rivaldo Roberts from South Africa to second and third place, respectively, in 10.26 and 10.33 seconds.
“I am training here in Italy and it feels like my second home,” Omanyala told Nation Sport exclusively on Monday.
“He is really enjoying it here.... he loves the food and hospitality here. He ran an easy race in Lucca and has a few days to rest before we travel to France,” said Omanyala’s manager Marcel Viljoen.
“Team Omanyala is relaxed and enjoying the journey.”
Away from his favourite Kenyan cuisine like chicken (kienyeji), fish and maize meal (ugali), Viljoen said that Omanyala is fast loving Italian cuisine.
“He likes pasta, focaccia (oven-baked bread), chicken and fish. Lots of different pastas and also nice bread,” said Viljoen.
Viljoen said they will fly out on Wednesday evening to Paris where he will be making the debut in the French capital.
“Actually, there isn’t much to tell or ask from Omanyala because he is such a focused athlete and easy to handle,” explained Viljoen, adding that their main target this year is the World Athletics Championships scheduled for August 19 to 27 in Budapest, Hungary.
Just like at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Omanyala reached the semi-finals at the World Athletics Championships held last year in Oregon, USA.
“Ours is to ensure that his preparations are professional, controlled and hard,” said Viljoen.
Omanyala’s coach Duncan Ayiemba said they are also focusing on their man having a strong mind set so that he can lower his times as well as manage the high expectations from everyone.
Omanyala finished second in Florence in 10.05 seconds, losing to world 100m champion Fred Kerley who won in 9.94.
It was an improved show in positioning for Omanyala after he finished third at Rabat Diamond League on May 28 in 10.05, behind winner Kerley (9.94) and South Africa's Akani Simbine (9.99).