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AK Gala still on despite recent turmoil

Vivian Cheruiyot crosses the line to win the women 10,000m title at the Beijing IAAF World Championships. She has been nominated for the Female Athlete of the Year at the AK Gala. PHOTO/IAAF

Vivian Cheruiyot crosses the line to win the women 5,000m title at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in 2011. She has been nominated for the Female Athlete of the Year at the AK Gala. PHOTO/IAAF

NAIROBI, December 4- Despite recent turmoil at the helm of Athletics Kenya (AK) leadership, the federation will press on with the December 10 Golden Gala to fete runners who excelled this year at local and international competition.

The event last held in 2013 in Eldoret will witness a Hollywood cast of top Kenyan runners paraded and honoured for their exploits in a difficult 12-months where they were the subject of intense doping scrutiny internationally.

It is also a terse message from the federation’s top hierarchy keen on steering the ship to back calmer waters after two weeks of upheaval at their doorstep.

A two-day blockade of their Riadha House headquarters last week was swiftly followed by suspensions of president, Isaiah Kiplagat, vice-president, David Okeyo and Eastern Branch chairman, Joseph Kinyua by the IAAF Ethics Commission on Tuesday.

Last Friday, the federation confirmed seven athletes, including two-time IAAF World Cross Country women’s champion, Emily Chebet, had been banned for two to four years for doping violations bringing the number of drug busts to 43.

AK also missed out on nomination in the Federation of the Year category in the annual Sports Personality of The Year Awards despite the roaring achievement of topping the world in Beijing.

The highlight of the glitzy black tie fete set for December 10 at a Nairobi hotel; will be the crowning of the Male and Female Athletes of the year.

World champions David Rudisha (800m) a past winner at the AK Gala, Ezekiel Kemboi (3000mS), Asbel Kiprop (1500m), Julius Yego (Javelin) and Nicholas Bett (400mH); World Cross champion and Beijing silver medallist, Geoffrey Kamworor (senior 12km), and IAAF Diamond League winner, Jairus Birech (3000mS) are in the running for the Male Athlete of the Year Award.

Beijing silver medallist, Caleb Mwangangi (5000m), World Cross silver winner, Bedan Karoki (senior 12km) and London and Berlin titleholder, Eliud Kipchoge (marathon) round the line-up for the top male award.

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The Female Athlete of the Year will be contested by World Cross champion; Agnes Jebet (senior 8km), world champions Vivian Cheruiyot (10000m) and Hyvin Kiyeng (3000mS) and Beijing Worlds silver medallists; Faith Chepng’etich (1500m) and Helah Kirop (marathon).

New York champion Mary Keitany (marathon), Chicago winner, Florence Kiplagat (marathon), Berlin titleholder Gladys Cherono (marathon), Worlds bronze medallist and IAAF Diamond League winner Eunice Sum (800m) and Virginia Nyambura (3000mS) who won the Diamond League race on her debut round the nominees for the top female prize.

Our athletes have worked hard to bring glory, pride and honour to the nation it is therefore only fair to appreciate them.

“We cannot not forget for the first time in our decorated history in the sport, Kenya topped the world at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics that were held in Beijing in August this year,” the federation told the press on Friday when confirming the black tie feat was still on.

“Besides, our runners also returned impressive results at the IAAF World Cross Country, IAAF World Youth Championships, CAA Africa Youth and East Africa championships, prestigious international meetings on track, field and road races as well as our local cross and track series.

“It is this success we must gather to celebrate, it is important to emphasise our duty and responsibilities to our athletes, we are obliged to recognise, acknowledge and reward their noble effort,” AK added.

Other categories that will be rewarded on the day include the Young Athlete, Sprint Athlete, Middle Distance Athlete, Long Distance Athlete, Field Athlete and Cross Country Award of the year for men and women.

Two recipients will be bestowed with the Outstanding Performance of the Year (male and female) with one recognised for the Comeback of the Year.

A dozen legends of the past will be inducted into the Athletics Kenya Hall of Fame.

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