Despite having bipolar disorder, Kenyan rugby player Dennis Ombachi describes how he competed in a sport successfully.
It’s a feat that many people will never forget when an athlete scores a goal in the waning seconds of the game and wins. It stands for a person’s determination to overcome adversity as an athlete. As a result, the memory of the event is often vivid. For example, the Kenyan rugby team won and qualified for the Olympic Rugby Sevens competition thanks to his buzzer-beater goal.
“I really can’t remember much. What I remember is getting the hooter and hearing the coaches, the late Benjamin Ayimba [Kenya’s head coach] and the technical bench just screaming Omba, Omba!” he recalled.
In Rio, where they faced off against some of the leading rugby teams in the world, Ombachi supported his team. Kenya became a regular in the HSBC Rugby Sevens Series thanks to their accomplishment in the league. Unfortunately, at the height of his athletic career, he sustained a severe leg damage, getting him out of the game for the rest of the year. However, many people were unaware that Ombachi also had a mental health issue that was much more difficult to deal with than his broken leg.
“Bones and muscles eventually do heal. But what I didn’t factor in was the mental toll it would take on me and which dragged on, even up to now that I still suffer a bit from it,” the Kenyan star said.
Read Also: Serena Williams Will Exit the World of Tennis, Here’s Why
How Ombachi dealt with the problem
Ombachi had to stay inside his house because of the severe injury to his leg. The rugby player ultimately made an attempt on his life. Fortunately, his family and friends urged him to evaluate his mental health. Bipolar disorder, characterized by manic highs, depressive lows, and psychotic episodes, was discovered to be the cause of his behavior at that time. He found that cooking, in addition to his network of supporters, improved his mental health.
“My love of food is intertwined with playing rugby because it started when playing the HSBC legs. You tour close to 18 countries a year, and all of these countries, have their own culture, languages and food. So we used to eat different kinds of foods,” Ombachi said.
“I used to come back home and challenge myself to try and create some of the different dishes I had here and there. I think that’s how the passion grew,” he added.
Read Also: NBA’s Competition Committee Drafts New Proposals to be Implemented in the 2022-2023 Season
Making another path
Who could ever miss the illustrious Gordon Ramsay, according to many people who enjoy cooking? Ombachi seemed to have grown to appreciate Ramsay’s cooking and expertise in the kitchen.
“Through his YouTube channel, I understood the fundamentals, the principles and how to use your tastebuds. That’s what got me through most of my depressive moments, especially when I was injured,” he said happily.
“In cooking, Gordon Ramsay was my mentor, although he doesn’t know about it.”
After some time, Ombachi returned to the game. However, because the pandemic prevented it, he could not pursue his sporting career to its full potential. But TikTok gave him an additional opportunity to adapt and find the motivation to carry on. In a video he uploaded, Ombachi prepares food and gives it to children in Nairobi’s streets. TikTok users have viewed the video over 15 million times.
“I think this [cooking for street kids] comes from when I was in high school. There was a time when I was a little depressed and lost. So I decided to run away from school. I knew I didn’t want to go home. So I ran away and was a street kid for a week.”
“I made lots of street kid friends, and it made me understand and empathize with them, that they are regular human beings just going through the same problems as all of us. My opportunities are just better than theirs. ”
Photo Credit: Anthony Wallace
Opinions expressed by US Insider contributors are their own.