NAIROBI, Kenya, December 12- Ethiopia’s distance running sensation Meselech Melkamu will be the chief guest at this year’s Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Awards (Soya) Gala Night at the Nairobi Arboretum Gardens on Wednesday.
Meselech will arrive from Addis Ababa at 1.00am Monday night and will be in Nairobi for two days, the climax of which will be attending Gala that will honour Kenya’s top sports performers of the year.
Meselech, 26, is the daughter of a former marathon runner, Melkamu Haileyesus and made her athletics breakthrough in 2001 when she joined the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation track and field club after school in Debre Markos.
She barely missed selection at Ethiopia’s 2002 World Cross Country trials but left no doubt in 2003 when she defeated World junior silver medallist, Tirunesh Dibaba to qualify for the World Cross Country Championships in Lausanne where she finished fourth in a race won by the former.
Meselech led an Ethiopian women 10,000m podium sweep during the 2008 Africa Championships in Athletics held in her nation.
For the first time, the Soyas will declare an overall Sports Personality unlike in the past where there has been a male and female sports personality.
Soya Awards Nominees
Special Category, Men: Swaleh Yusuf (Paracanoe), Abraham Tarbei (Paralympics), Josephat Owino (Special Olympics), Henry Nzungi Muendo (Paralympics) and Jonah Kipkemboi Chesum (Paralymics).
Special Category, Women: Jennifer Mutuku (Special Olympics), Centrine Namatasi (Wheel chair basketball), Mary Nakhumicha (Paralympics), Millicent Akoth (Special Olympics) and Joan Timbe (Wheelchair)
Sports Association of the Year: Athletics Kenya, Kenya Secondary Schools Federation, Kenya Volleyball Federation, Kenya Motor Sport Federation and Kenya Rowing/ Canoeing Federation.
Coach of the Year: Sammy Omolo (Tusker FC), Peter Mathu (Daegu Worlds), David Letting (Punta Umbria World Cross), Benjamin Nyangweso (Ulinzi FC) and David Lungaho (Kenya Prisons/Kenya women’s volleyball).
Community Hero: Rose Naliaka (Golf), Paul Bitok (Volleyball), Bob Munro (Football) and Douglas Wakiihuri (Athletics)
Most Promising Sports Personalities of the Year, Women: Naomi Wafula (Golf),Linda Oseso (Athletics/Hammer), Faith Chepng’etich (World Cross/World Youth), Topista Situma (Football/Schools) and Mercy Bwana (Football/schools)
Most Promising Sports Personality of the Year, Men: Shivam Vinayak (Motorcross), Ivan Guya (Motocross), William Malel (Athletics), Leonard Kosencha (Athletics) and Silas Kipruto (Volleyball).
School of the Year, Girls: Arch Bishop Njenga Secondary (Football), Tartar Secondary (Football), Malava High (Volleyball), Tigoi High (Basketball) and Kerugoya High (Hockey).
School of the Year, Boys: Laiser Hill Academy (Basketball), Kakamega High (Rugby 7s), Kamukunji High (Handball), Gekomoni (Football) and Cheptil High (Volleyball).
Sports Team of the Year, Women: Telkom Orange (Hockey), Daegu Marathon Team (Athletics), World Cross Country Championships (Athletics) and Kenya Pipeline (Volleyball) and Kenya Prisons (Volleyball).
Sports Team of the Year, Men: Tusker FC (Football), National Volleyball, Daegu Marathon (Athletics), Sofapaka FC (Football) and National Canoeing squad.
Outstanding Performance Award: Janet Jepkosgei (Athletics), Musa Otieno (Football), Ezekiel Kemboi (Athletics), Alfred Kirwa (Athletics) and Steve Tikolo (Cricket).
Sportswoman of the Year: Edna Kiplagat (Athletics), Mary Keitany (Athletics), Vivian Cheruiyot (Athletics), Evelyn Makuto (Volleyball), Brackcides Agala (volleyball) and Gladys Mwaniki (Tae Kwon Do).
Sportsman of the Year: Patrick Makau (Athletics), Geoffrey Mutai (Athletics), Stephen Waruru (Football), Julius Yego (Athletics/Javelin), Moses Mosop (Athletics) and David Rudisha (Athletics).