A defiant Ferdinand Omanyala sent shock waves with a national-record-performance in a grueling battle that pushed his fiercest rival Mark Otieno to his maiden Olympic appearance during the Athletics Kenya Olympics Trials on Thursday.

The almost photo-finish race means that Omanyala and Otieno, Kenya’s fastest men, will both line up at the start line when the 2020 Summer Olympics Games kick off in Tokyo, Japan on July 23.

The historic achievement has raised some shreds of hope that the effort being put in place in developing short races might soon pay dividends as Kenya slowly punches her way up to the table of sprint giants like Jamaica, the Great Britain and the United States.

The performance was posted at the historic Kasarani Stadium, host of the 1987 All Africa Games, a venue constructed nine years before Omanyala, now 26, was born.374505

A heavily built Omanyala pierced through the cold air at Kasarani after a slow start, with Otieno just a few inches away as the duo exchanged leads for 10.02 seconds which was the official time recorded for the leader Omanyala with Otieno coming just three microseconds behind (10.05)

Indeed, that was true entertainment for fans who were kept waiting for action for close to five minutes following three fault starts before the faulty gun finally agreed to do its work.

It was also historic in that for the first time Kenya, the revered long distance giants, but sprint dwarfs, will field two athletes in the Olympic 100m distance.

The last time Kenya had fielded a participant in the distance was way back in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain. Kennedy Ondieki was the first Kenyan to take part in the 100m and 200m at the Seoul 1988 Olympics where he reached the quarterfinals (second round) in the 100m and 200 meters. He also achieved the same feat in the 200m in the subsequent Games in Barcelona races.

But since then, Kenyan has struggled in the sprints only managing to first ever Olympic appearance today.

But while the country is still celebrating the rare feat, all attention will now shift to Bunyala Road that houses Athletics Kenya (AK) headquarters.

The AK officials will have to do a lot of soul searching. Tough decisions will have to be made, if Kenya is to increase her chances of winning a first medal in 100m.

The federation finally bowed to the media pressure when they rescinded their decision that the trials will only be open to athletes with no doping history when they invited Omanyala for trials.  

Omanyala was slapped with an 18-months ban for a doping offense in 2017.

But AK has insisted that any athlete who has tested positive for a prohibited substance before will not represent Kenya in any international event.

This pronouncement, which is not backed by any legislation, now leaves AK in a tricky situation especially after Omanyala hit the Olympic qualifying time.

Even before the trials, Omanyala and AK had been embroiled in a legal battle and some times war of words over this doping issue with the runner arguing that he has every right to represent his country after serving his ban.

But Riadha House has been defiant. They had even refused to recognize the 10.01 seconds he potsed at the Making of Champion (MOC) Grand Prix in Lagos, Nigeria.

This time, Kenya’s national record was marked RED by AK, heading into the trial meaning that Omanyala was among the many athletes battling for the Olympic qualifying times at the high altitude in Nairobi, a challenge that Omanyala gladly accepted and conquered.  

The onus is now on AK as the country awaits the next step -whether Omanyala will team up with Otieno to push for the betterment of Ondieko’s record or whether the national athletics mother body will stick to its guns.