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Sporting royalty in Mombasa for SOYA gala

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho awards Eliud Kipchoge with the athlete of the year gong during the 2018 event

MOMBASA, Kenya, Jan 23 – The Kenyan sporting royalty will invade the Coastal town of Mombasa on Friday evening for the 16th edition of the annual Sports Personality of the Year Awards (SOYA) where Kenya’s best performing sports stars from 2019 will be feted.

Themed “Night Under the Stars, with the Stars”, the 2019 SOYA is being held at the Coastal City for the second year in a row and after being staged at the historic Fort Jesus last year, the gala will head down to the Mombasa Sports Club for this year’s showpiece.

Since the inception of the awards in 2004, no sportsperson outside track athletes has won the overall crown while only two non-track and field athletes, Jason Dunford in 2007 and Collins Injera in 2009, have won the Sportsman of the Year award.

At the same time, no sportsperson apart from Vivian Cheruiyot has won the award twice. The former track queen who has transited to road running clinched the accolade in 2011 and 2016.

Meanwhile, two Paralympians have beaten able bodied athletes to win the overall SOYA crown, Henry Wanyoike clinching the inaugural crown in 2004 and Samuel Muchai in 2018.

This year’s awards promise a tantalizing contest for all the top titles.

Owala entered her name in the annals of sports history by emerging the 2019 African champion in the Wellness division as well as the Arnold Classic. PHOTO/Standard Media

Body builder Evelyne Okinyi Owala has managed to muscle her way into the top five for the sports woman of the year accolade and she will flex her muscles against seasoned track athletes to clinch the coveted crown.

She will contest for the crown against three world champions and a newly crowned world record holder.

Hellen Obiri (5,000m), Ruth Chepng’etich (Marathon) and Beatrice Chepkoech (3,000m steeplechase) will be there to contest and so will Brigid Kosgei, still basking in the heat of her world record breaking run at the Chicago Marathon.

In the Sportsman of the year category, Harambee Stars forward Michael Olunga will also find himself wading in uncharted waters as no footballer has ever won the crown, mostly dominated by track and field stars.

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World Marathon record holder and current sporting darling Eliud Kipchoge, 1500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot, just recently voted African male athlete of the year, world and Olympic steeplechase king Conseslus Kipruto, and world Half Marathon record holder Geoffrey Kamworor.

Kipchoge won the award for 2018’s best last year after his record breaking run at the Berlin Marathon and will look to become the first man to win the accolade back to back.

Meanwhile, Vincent Mutai, who won an unprecedented three gold medals at the International Para Athletics Championships last year, and the 2018 Sports Personality of the Year Samuel Mushai are among the nominees for the Sportsman Living with a Disability Award.

Multi-talented Asiya Sururu, who is set for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in rowing and World Para Athletics bronze medallist Nancy Chelagat highlight the Sportswoman Living with a Disability category.

Full list of nominees:

Sportsman of the Year;

‪1. Michael Olunga – Football

‪2. Geoffrey Kamworor – Athletics

‪3. Conseslus Kipruto – Athletics

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‪4. Eliud Kipchoge – Athletics

‪5. Timothy Cheruiyot – Athletics

Sportswoman of the Year;

  1. Evelyn Okinyi Owala – Body Building
  2. Beatrice Chepkoech – Athletics
  3. Hellen Obiri – Athletics
  4. Ruth Chepngetich – Athletics
  5. Brigid Kosgei – Athletics

Sportswoman Living with disability;

  1. Beryl Atieno – Deaf Athlete
  2. Catherine Nyaga – Special Olympics
  3. Ruth Jemurgor – Deaf Athlete
  4. Asiya Sururu – Wheelchair Tennis
  5. Nancy Chelagat – Paralympian

Sportsman Living with disability;

  1. John Koech – Deaf Athlete
  2. Onesmus Mutinda – Special Olympics
  3. David Omondi – Deaf Athlete
  4. Samuel Mushai – Paralympian
  5. Vincent Mutai – Paralympian

Coach of the Year;

  1. Alex Alumirah – Vihiga Queens (Football)
  2. Carey Odhiambo – Morans (Basketball)
  3. David Ouma – Harambee Starlets (Football)
  4. Curtis Olago – KCB RFC (Rugby)
  5. Paul Bitok – Malkia Strikers (Volleyball)

Sports Team of the Year men;

  1. Kenya Morans – Basketball
  2. Gor Mahia – Football
  3. KCB RFC – Rugby
  4. Kenya Tennis Beach Team – Tennis
  5. Bandari FC – Football

Sports Team of the Year women;

  1. Malkia Strikers – Volleyball
  2. KPA Women’s Team – Basketball
  3. Vihiga Queens – Football
  4. Kenya Lionesses – Rugby
  5. Harambee Starlets – Football

Most Promising boy;

  1. Albert Njogu – Tennis
  2. Eugine Adare – Basketball
  3. Daniel Sakari – Football
  4. Geoffrey Okwatch – Rugby
  5. Dominic Ndigiti – Athletics

Most Promising girls;

  1. Jentrix Shikangwa – Football
  2. Mary Moraa – Athletics
  3. Belinda Wanjiru – Golf
  4. Faith Atieno – Basketball
  5. Faith Jepkemboi – Athletics

Federation of the Year;

  1. Kenya Motor Sports Federation
  2. Kenya Sports Federation of the Deaf
  3. Kenya Tong-IL Moo-Do Federation
  4. Athletics Kenya
  5. Special Olympics Kenya

Community Hero;

  1. Johanna Omollo – Football
  2. Bernard Makumi – Football/Athletics
  3. Peter Ongondo – Cricket
  4. Erick Kimaiyo – Athletics

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