Date: 18 January 2017 12:56
Who will be the fairest of them all when the 2016 Sports Personality of the Year Awards (Soya) Gala goes down Thursday evening at Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Nairobi?
The winner will cap off one of the most electrifying and competitive seasons, and walk away with the Sh1 million prize money.
It a season that saw Kenya register their best ever performance at Olympics during the Rio Games and some good team performances. Kenya Sevens won their maiden World Rugby Sevens Series leg in Singapore while Kenya Simbas rugby team reached position 22 in the world, their best ever.
Tusker snatched the SportPesa Premier League (SPL) title from Gor Mahia and are in the run for Team of the Year award.
Harambee Starlets made their maiden appearance at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon while Telkom Orange women’s hockey team won a record 19 Premier League titles.
Regional and national league women’s handball champions Nairobi Water and Kenya Roll Ball team sum up the contenders for women’s Team of the Year Award. However, the focus will on individual category awards where the overall winner will be drawn from. They are Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year and Sportsman and Sportswoman Living with a Disability.
Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, who won the 2016 Athletics Kenya Athlete of the Year Award and World Rugby Sevens Series all-time top try scorer Collins Injera are among the top contenders for the men’s award.
Kipchoge, who won last year’s London Marathon, claimed the World Marathon Major Series and Association of International Marathon Series (AIMS) awards while Injera was the overall winner in 2009.
Others are Olympic and World 800m champion David Rudisha, who was the overall winner in 2012 and Olympic 3,000m champion Conseslus Kipruto.
An interesting battle is in the women’s category where many will be spoilt for choice between Vivian “Pocket Rocket” Cheruiyot and Jemimah Sumgong who won Kenya’s maiden Olympic victories in 5,000m and marathon races respectively at the Rio Olympic Games.
There is also Faith Chepng’etich, who staged a stunning win in the 1,500m race at the Rio Olympics. The results by Cheruiyot and Chepng’etich were particularly tantalizing after they upstaged the race favourites from Ethiopia Almaz Ayana and Genzebe Dibaba respectively.
Also chasing honours is Fatuma Zarika, the first Kenyan to win the World Boxing Council world title. The 31-year-old Zarika dethroned champion Alicia Ashley from Jamaica off the WBC super-bantamweight title via split points decision in America at the Dort Federal Event Center, Flint, Michigan, USA in October.
Nancy Chelagat, the only Kenyan female medallist at the 2016 Paralympics, where she won silver in the T11 1,500m, leads the way in the Sportswoman Living with a Disability.
She will battle wheelchair tennis internationals Jane Ndenga and fellow Olympians Irene Cherono and Nelly Sile.
Samuel Muchai, who captained Team Kenya to the Rio Paralympics, where he won two gold medals in the T.11 5,000m and 1,500m, is favourite for Sportsman Living with a Disability award.
Athletics Kenya Coach of the Year Julius Kirwa, who guided Kenya to its best ever show in Olympics at the Rio Summer Games and Telkom Orange coach Jos Openda are to contenders for Coach of The Year award. Kenya won six gold, six silver and one bronze medal.