NAIROBI, January 15 – Javelin superstar, world champion Julius Yego was the biggest winner of the night after clinching the double by being crowned the 2015 overall Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year (SOYA) in a glittering annual black tie gala award ceremony in Nairobi on Friday.
Yego who became the first Kenyan world champion outside track and marathon when he won gold in Beijing, was also named the Sportsman of the year while world 3000m Steeplechase champion Hyvin Kiyeng bagged the corresponding women’s award.
Yego or the ‘YouTube man as he is popularly known was voted ahead of middle distance runner, Asbel Kiprop who had a stellar season winning his third back-to-back world title in Beijing as well as world cross champion, Geoffrey Kamworor.
The event which was graced by former Cameroon forward and Olympic winner, Patrick M’Boma, saw the track and field athletes dominate with world 400m Hurdles winner Nicholas Bett scooping the most outstanding performance of the year ahead of Kabras Rugby Club.
Delighted Yego, the Commonwealth champion said winning the accolade was a sign of appreciation after having a fruitful season that saw him set four national and two African records on his way to making history with his biggest throw of 92.72m in Beijing.
“This is a huge moment for me and for our sport in Kenya. It has been really an amazing season for me starting in Doha Diamond League up to the World Championships which i won.
“I appreciate all those who voted for me as it has shown my tireless work in the field of javelin has been recognised. Winning this award is not easy because we had many competitors but I thank the panel of judges for having considered me as the favourite,” the African champion underscored.
Yego urged the Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Arts and Culture Dr. Hassan Wario to keep on fighting doping in the country after cases of the menace spiked up in Kenya attracting the attention of world governing body, IAAF after World Anti Doping Agency inquiry chief and former head of the body; Richard Pound said Kenya “clearly” has a doping problem.
“Our Cabinet Secretary has really assisted us in fighting doping, I urge you to keep fighting and we know we will succeed because it’s really tarnishing our sport. We are doing the awards but issues of doping will come up at some point and that will kill the pride of our country,” Yego who was named last Year’s Athletics Kenya best male, said.
Kiyeng who had a wonderful performance last year in winning her first world championship is hoping to continue with the same at this year’s Olympics Games in Rio
“Winning this award is a morale booster so that I can go and work harder. I’m very pleased because getting this accolade is not easy and I thank everyone who voted for me.
“I had a successful season last year so I’m hoping to have a good outing too in Olympics,” the 24-year-old who will compete at Saturday’s Police Cross Country Championships, stated.
Kiyeng emerged the winner from a strong competition that consisted of Kenya Women Volleyball team attacker Mercy Moim who was a source of inspiration at the Africa Nations Cup, World Grand Prix and world Cup as Commonwealth 10,000m silver medallist, Florence Kiplagat was third.
Newly introduced Ever Green category went to steeplechase great Ezekiel Kemboi who claimed his fourth successive world tile in Beijing.
It was a wonderful night for unbeaten SportPesa Premier League champions Gor Mahia who bagged the Sports team of the Year Award, beating National Hockey team and Rugby’s Kenya Simba 15’s.
Malkia Strikers edged out their juniors, Kenya under-23 volleyball team that won gold at the All Africa Games as Telkom Orange Hockey team who lifted their fourth successive African title were third.
Special Olympics gold medallist, Onesmus Mutinda was the named the sportswoman with a disability while Susan Gatwiri who also won gold on Special Olympics taking the men’s award.
As expected world cross country champion, Agnes Tirop topped the girl’s Most Promising Award with World Youth, African and Commonwealth Youth 1500m champion Kumari Taki named the Most Promising boy.
Returning Nakuru RFC back-row Lawrence Buyachi, beat former KCB and Gor forward Paul Kiongera as well as swimmer, Emily Muteti to win the Comeback award.
Nairobi’s Laiser Hill Academy, the national Rugby hampions and East Africa Hockey champions, Sinyolo Girls were the school winners.
The winners were selected by a panellist made up of sports journalists with the public voting through an SMS platform for the sportsman, sportswoman and the teams.
Overall sportsman: Julius Yego (Javelin)
Sportsman of the Year: Julius Yego
Sportswoman of the Year: Hyvin Kiyeng (Athletics)
Ever Green : Ezekiel Kemboi (Athletics)
Outstanding performers: Nicholas Bett
Sports team of the year men: Gor Mahia
Sports team of the year women: Kenya Women Volleyball team (Malkia Strikers)
Sportswoman with a disability: Susan Gatwiri
Sportsman with a disability: Onesmus Mutinda
Schools team boys: Laiser Hill Academy
Schools team Girls: Sinyolo Girls
Coach of the year: David Lung’aho (Malkia Strikers)
Community Hero: Ednah Rotich (Beach Volleyball)
Comeback Award: Lawrence Buyachi (Rugby)
Most Promising boys: Kumari Taki (Athletics)
Most Promising girls: Agnes Tirop (Athletics)
Sports Federation of the Year: Kenya Volleyball Federation.
Outstanding performer boy: David Paristao
Outstanding performer girl: Judy Nkatha
Hall of Fame : Brian Hokins (Shooting), Late Violet Baraza (Volleyball), Late John Mucheru (Golf)