NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20- A smiling Vivian Cheruiyot, clad in a crisp shiny purple and black flowing dress, marked the end of her glitzy career on track by bagging the 2016 overall Sports Personality of the Year Award (SOYA) on Thursday night.
Cheruiyot who is transiting to road racing this year had a superb season in 2016 crowned with her first ever 5000m Olympic medal.
She received Sh1m for winning the overall title and a glittering trophy.
The ‘pocket rocket’ as she is fondly referred picked a double at the 13th edition of the SOYA awards after also being named Female Sports Personality of the Year, coming less than two months after being named the Athletics Kenya Female Athlete of the year.
“I feel honored to get this award coming after putting in so much hard work in 2016 which was my 17th year in track running. It is a huge morale booster for me and I now hope I can transit that same form to road running,” Cheruiyot said shortly after receiving her twin awards.
While making her remarks on the podium, the Olympic 10,000m silver medallist challenged the upcoming athletes to put in some extra hard work to ensure they emulate her.
“This is my 17th year in athletics and I am still here winning awards. I ask, where are the young upcoming athletes? I want to challenge them to work hard and get to where I am,” Cheruiyot commented.
On her path to be crowned the Female Sports Personality of the Year, Cheruiyot beat compatriots Faith Chepng’etich and Jemimah Sumgong both Olympic champions as well.
Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge was named Male Sports Personality of the Year pushing aside competition from World Rugby Sevens Series top try scorer Collins Injera and fellow Olympic gold medalists Conseslus Kipruto and world record holder David Rudisha.
Kipchoge wowed the crowd with his moving acceptance speech where he asked them to pray for him as he undertakes on a mission to lower the world record to below two hours.
The 31-year old spoke of how he was anchoring his strength to break a barrier that seems impossible with the history making race set to be run in a yet to be disclosed venue in May.
National women football team Harambee Starlets who made it to the African Women’s Cup of Nations for the first time ever in 2016 were named the best women’s sports team while the Kenya Sevens rugby team was named the best male team ahead of Tusker FC and the Kenya 15’s.
Starlets striker Mwanahalima ‘Dogo’ Adam completed the victorious day for the team after she was named as the best young sportswoman while World Junior 800m champion Kipyegon Bett claimed the corresponding boys’ crown.
In the schools category, Kwale based Kaya Tiwi basketball team was the big winner, bagging the school team of the year award while their coach Philip Onyango was named the school coach of the year.
Onyango who is also a journalist by profession joined the school from Shimba Hills and managed to historically pull them to the national and East African titles on their debut, having never made it past the regional levels before.
“I feel happy and honored to receive this award. I was given an opportunity at Kaya Tiwi and together with the girls we managed to achieve whatever we did. It has been through dedication and hard work and there is more that should be expected from this team,” Onyango told Capital Sport.
The ceremony was graced by former marathon world record holder and multiple Olympic champion Haille Gabresellasie who is the head of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation.
“I am very pleased with what you Kenyans and my friend Paul (Tergat) is doing recognizing sportsmen who have done well. This is something that we as Ethiopia will try and borrow,” the Ethiopian athletics legend said.
Final list of awards
Overall Sports Personality of the Year – Vivian Cheruiyot (Athletics)
Sportsman of the Year- Eliud Kipchoge (Athletics, Marathon)
Sportswoman of the Year – Vivian Cheruiyot (Athletics, 10,000m, 5,000m)
Sportsman of the year living with disability: Samuel Muchai (Athletics, T11- 1,500m, 5,000m)
Sportswoman of the year living with disability – Nancy Koech (Athletics)
Most promising boy – Kipyegon Bett (Athletics)
Most promising girl – Mwanahalima Adam (Football)
Men team of the year – Kenya Sevens (Rugby)
Women team of the year – Harambee Starlets
Sports federation of the year – Tennis Kenya
Boys school team of the year – Kamusinga (Hockey)
Girls school Team of the year – Kaya Tiwi (Basketball),
School Player of the Year Girls – Haddasah Gichovi (Athletics)
School Player of the Year Boys – Allan Singar (Table Tennis, Menengai High School, Nakuru)
School Coach of the Year – Philip Onyango (Kaya Tiwi, Baketball)
Coach of the Year – Jos Openda (Telkom Orange)
Hall of Fame – Jackson Omaido (Rugby), Naftali Temu (Athletics)
Community Hero – Felix Oloo (Rugby, New Life International School, Nakuru)