NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 7- Marathoners Eliud Kipchoge and Jemimah Sumgong are the frontrunners for the male and female athletes of the year award as Athletics Kenya prepares to fete the best performers on the track, field and road in 2016 on Wednesday night.
While Kipchoge won Kenya’s second ever men’s marathon gold at the Rio Olympics, Sumgong made history by being the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic Marathon Gold ahead of Kenyan turned Bahraini Eunice Kirwa and reigning world champion Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia.
The duo’s year ended perfectly with an Olympic Gold and it came hot on the heels of a triumph in the treacherous London Marathon earlier in April. Sumgong was further accorded with promotion by her bosses at the Kenya Air Force following her tremendous achievements.
The two have also been nominated in the road running category with Kipchoge fighting it off with World Half Marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor, 2015 New York marathon champion Stanley Biwott and reigning Paris Marathon champion Cyprian Kotut.
Sumgong will contend for the female road racing title with 2010 World Half Marathon champion Florence Kiplagat, Visiline Jepkesho and 2012 London Marathon champion Mary Keitany.
For the Male Athlete of the Year, Kipchoge will battle it out with Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto and his 800m counterpart David Rudisha.
Kipruto upset the status quo in Rio when he beat seasoned steeplechaser Ezekiel Kemboi to the water and barrier race gold with the latter being disqualified for stepping off the track.
The 21 year old former World Junior champion had a superb season in the run up to the Olympics, being crowned the overall Diamond League winner in the race after winning six out of the seven races in the year.
It was a contrasting season for Rudisha who endured a tough year only to revive his dwindling fortunes with a spirited and well calculated run to an Olympic gold.
Other nominees in the category include reigning World Javelin Champion and Olympic silver medalist Julius Yego and African 400m hurdles champion Boniface Mucheru.
In the female Athlete of the Year category, Sumgong faces stiff competition from Olympic 5,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot who delivered one of the most memorable runs at the Olympics to return Kenya to the queen’s throne in the 12-and-a-half lap race in Rio.
Having lost the 10,000m race to Almaz Ayana, the diminutive Kenya Police athlete showed a clean pair of heels to the Ethiopian in the 5,000m race, one she had domineered in during the Diamond League.
Also nominated is Hellen Obiri who picked silver behind Cheruiyot in Rio, stepping up from her preferred 1500m specialization. Prior to the Olympics, Obiri had won two Diamond League races in Eugene and Monaco, having just come back from maternity leave.
Her performances have also earned her a nomination in the comeback athlete of the year category.
Olympic 1500m champion faith Kipyegon and 800m bronze medalist Margaret Nyairera complete the list for the female athlete of the year. The two have also been nominated for the middle distance athlete of the year category.
AK Awards nominations:
Athlete of the Year
Male- Eliud Kipchoge (Marathon), Conseslus Kipruto (3,000m SC), David Rudisha (800m), Julius Yego (javelin), Boniface Mucheru (400m-H)
Female- Vivian Cheruiyot (10,000m, 5,000m), Jemimah Sumgong (Marathon), Faith Chepng’etich (1,500m), Hellen Obiri (5,000m), Margaret Nyairera (800m)
Young Athlete of the Year
Male- Rogers Kwemoi (10,000m), Amos Kirui (3,000m SC), Kipyegon Bett (800m), Kumari Taki (1,500m)
Female- Cellphine Chespol (3,000m s/c), Maureen Thomas (400m), Emmaculate Chepkirui (5,000m):
Sprinter Athlete of the Year
Male- Boniface Mucheru (400m-H), Harun Koech (400m), Mike Mokamba (200m)
Female- Maureen Jelagat (400m), , Maureen Thomas (400m), Margaret Nyairera (800m)
Middle Distance Athlete of the Year
Male- David Rudisha (800m), Ferguson Rotich (800m), Asbel Kiprop (1,500m), Timothy Cheruiyot (1,500m)
Female- Emily Cherotich (800m), Faith Chepng’etich (1,500m), Margaret Nyairera (800m)
Long Distance Athlete of the Year
Male- Paul Tanui (10,000m), Augustine Choge (3,000m), Douglas Kipserem (5,000m), Mangata Ndiwa
Female- Vivian Cheruiyot (10,000m), Hellen Obiri (5,000m), Hyvin Kiyeng (3,000m SC), Alice Aprot (10,000m), Sheila Chepkirui (5,000m)
Field Athlete of the Year
Male- Julius Yego (Javelin), Matthew Sawe (high jump), Alex Kiprotich (javelin)
Road Running Athlete the Year
Male- Eliuld Kipchoge (Marathon), Geoffrey Kamworor (Half Marathon), Stanley Biwott (Marathon), Cyprian Kotut (Marathon)
Female- Jemimah Sumgong (Marathon), Florence Kiplagat (Marathon), Visiline Jepkesho (Marathon), Peris Jepchirchir (Half Marathon), Mary Keitany (marathon)
Comeback Athlete the Year
Hellen Obiri (5,000m), Abel Kirui (Marathon), Augustine Choge (World Indoor)
Coach of the Year- Esther Kavaya (Africa Cross), Julius Kirwa (Rio Olympics), Richard Metto (Rio Olympics- Marathon), David Kitur (Africa Championships), Robert Ngisirei(World Under-20)