NAIROBI, Kenya, November 7 – A cocktail of athletes, footballers, golfers and motor sports talent will vie for the intensely competed Most Promising category of the 10th Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year (Soya) awards following to the loaded nominee list released by the panel of judges on Thursday.
This represents a wide selection of potential winners of the accolade set aside for upcoming stars at the December 10 gala at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani that has been dominated by athletes in previous editions.
“We are very delighted with this year’s entry as it is Soya’s objective to identify and motivate all sportspersons from every discipline,” said panel chairman, Omulo Okoth, while releasing the nominees.
Tusker FC striker, Michael Olunga and fast rising golfer Daniel Nduva are among those listed to battle it out for the Most Promising award where they will compete against a collection of world and continental distance running champions.
Olunga who cleared from Upper Hill School last year, has been key in Tusker’s performance and has scored on a few occasions despite the club failing to defending their Kenyan Premier League title.
Nduva’s performances earned him a place in the national team despite being only 17.
He featured in the Africa Amateur Golf team Championship (AAGTC) last month in Swaziland and became the youngest winner of the Barry Cap during the Coast Open.
Swimmer Hamdan Bayusuf and Tejas Hirani (motor sport) will also vie for that accolade.
Bayusuf bagged five gold medals during the CANA Zone 3 and 4 Championships in Zambia and was voted the Most Valuable swimmer while Hirani, 15, is one of the most talented youngsters in Kenyan motor sport.
He is an all-rounder and currently leads the 2WD non-Turbo class in autocross as well as the Rally Raid buggy class.
He is also on his way to becoming national Rally Raid champion for the second year running and also tops the Junior Rot ax Rift Valley Motor and Sports Club championship series.
From athletics, Alfred Kipketer, 16, and Robert Biwott, 17, who excelled during the World Youth Championships in Ukraine, front the list.
Kipketer won the 800m gold after posting a suicidal first 400m lap, where he ran quicker than the World record pace of David Rudisha.
He clocked an astonishing 48.63 split—which is notably faster than the 49.28 that Rudisha ran en-route to his 1:40.91 standard at London 2012.
Biwott won 1,500m in Donetsk to improve the 2013 world youth-leading mark by three seconds.
Festus Kiprono (3,000m steeple chase), Mathew Kiptanui (1500m) and Moses Mukono (5000m) who all won gold medals at the Africa Championships in Mauritius round off the distance running exponents contesting for the award.
Field sensation, Alex Kiprotich, who is touted as successor to Olympics Javelin star Julius Yego, having broken the 70m barrier is also in with a shout.
Rugby has not been left behind with Bush Mwale, who plays for Western Bulls and the youngest member of the Kenya 7s team making the loaded list.
Fellow rugby emerging star, Billy Odhiambo who plays for Strathmore University and Kenya 7s rounds off the loaded line-up.
The girls’ most promising category is also as deep with footballer Neddy Atieno Okoth, who was runners-up last year getting the chance to ascend to the top.
She has her work cut out to dethrone winner and favourite Faith Cheng’etich Kipyegon whose stellar junior running career welcomed a successful defence of her World Cross title besides setting the new national women 1500m record of 3:56.98 that is also an African Junior record as well as finishing fifth at the Moscow World Championships.
Her colleagues Mercy Chebwogen (3000m), Lillian Kasait Rengeruk (3000m), Roseline Chepng’etich and Daisy Chepkemei (2000m steeple chase) who medalled at the World Cross and World Youth Championships are formidable contenders.