NAIROBI, Kenya, November 19- As preparations for the December 6 Safaricom Soya Awards enter the homestretch, organisers will not expand the short-list of seven penned for the Overall Sports Personality of the Year gong despite additional names being nominated for the top prize.
“Voting through the Short Message Service we launched last week has received good response and some federations such as hockey, basketball and cricket who had not sent in their names have forwarded their nominees for the Overall Sports Personality.
“We will not add them to the short list since we went through 21 disciplines when coming up with it but they will be in contention in other categories including the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year,” the chairperson of the Panel of Judges, Evelyn Watta said on Monday.
“We have a week to go before the nominations close and by the end of next week; we will be able to have an idea of the winners of various categories. We also have an idea of what Kenyans want to see named as the Overall Sports Personality of the Year,” she added.
World record holder, David Rudisha, Celtic FC star, Victor Wanyama, Paralympics record holder, Abraham Tarbei, double World Champion, Vivian Cheruiyot, swimming ace, David Dunford, World Marathon Majors winner, Mary Keitany and Olympics gold medallist, Ezekiel Kemboi are in the running for the top gong.
Organisers were boosted by the presentation of a Sh1.5m sponsorship cheque by Huawei Technologies with country CEO, Wind Li stating, “Kenya’s athletes in football, rugby, track and field to mention but a few carry with them immense influence amongst the trendy youth as role models.”
Event patron and founder, Paul Tergat, used the occasion to reiterate next year’s event that will mark the tenth anniversary will be the bigger gala ceremony yet.
“Preparations are in top gear and we are wrapping up now and we should have a colourful event and we are looking forward to celebrating this event,” the former world marathon record holder outlined in relation to this year’s gala.
Nominations close next Friday with judges settling to decide the final awardees in the 16 categories that will be honoured in Nairobi during the annual gala.
Meanwhile, the international celebrity guest that will grace this year’s fete will be unveiled in the course of a week’s time.
Simon Chebon, the secretary of the panel revealed that organisers were tying up the final details to ship in the star.
Ethiopia’s female running ace, Meselech Melkamu, was the guest last year where Cheruiyot became the first recipient of the Overall Sports Personality accolade after collecting the Sportswoman of the Year award.
World marathon record holder and Frankfurt titleholder, Patrick Makau, won the Sportsman of the Year with each winner receiving a trophy and a Sh150,000 cash prize in each category.
Chebon added the prize kitty was still pegged at Sh3m since the additional Comeback of the Year had been introduced this year.
“Our sponsorship has remained the same and it is our wish to reward more if we are able to attract more partners,” he explained.