Who'll be crowned Kenya's finest? Big day as Sports personalities brace for Soya Awards in Kakamega

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August 6, 2021. Faith Kipyegon of Kenya celebrates with her national flag after winning gold REUTERS

Kenyan sports legends and current in-form athletes will today brush shoulders at Bukhungu Stadium as Kakamega County hosts the 18th edition of the 2021 Sports Personality of the Year Awards (Soya) gala.

The gala, which will be held in Western Kenya for the first time, is sponsored by the County Government of Kakamega, Lotto Foundation, CPF Financial Services, NSSF and Safaricom.

From athletics to football, rugby to basketball, athletes will be awarded in 10 different categories including Sportsman, Sportswoman, most promising boy and girl, coach of the year, team of the year men and women, Sportswoman with disability and sportsman with disability and Hall of fame.

All eyes will be on the Sportsman of the Year award after Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga broke the long awaited athletics dominance to win the coveted prize in 2020.

Olunga became the first footballer to win the top prized award.

Here are the top categories that is expected to elicit stiff competition;

Sportsman of the Year

Sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala will battle for top honours against two-time Olympic marathon gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge, rally ace Carl Tundo, Shujaa rugby player Alvin ‘Buffa’ Otieno and Tokyo Olympics 800m gold medallist Emmanuel Korir.

Omanyala made history at the Tokyo Olympics Games, becoming the first Kenyan to reach the semifinals in men’s 100 metres.

Omanyala will, however, face off with Alvin Otieno, who has been superb for Kenya Sevens during the 2021 HSBC World Sevens Series.

Also in the race is Motor Sports ace Carl Tundo who is increasingly sending shockwaves in the sport.

The five-time Safari Rally winner currently leads the Africa Rally Championship after registering victories in the Equator Rally, the tally of Tanzania and Zambia navigated by Tim Jessop in a motorsports Volkswagen Polo RS.

Kipchoge is yet another athlete aiming for the coveted gong.

Besides winning gold medal in Tokyo, he became the only third person to win two Olympic titles in a marathon.

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge celebrates after winning gold medal in men's marathon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, yesterday morning. [AP]

Sportswoman of the Year

Female rally driver Maxime Wahome who made strides in her debut year as a rally driver, will, face competition for the award from World and Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Chepngetich, Olympic Marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir, Vihiga Queens and Harambee Starlets star player Jentrix Shikangwa, tennis player Angela Okutoyi and volleyball star Sharon Chepchumba.

Tennis prodigy and African U18 champion Okutoyi, who made history on Sunday by becoming the first Kenyan to win a match at the Australian Junior Open, will pose a huge threat to the veterans.

Men’s team of the Year

Football Kenya Federation Premier League (FKF-PL) champions Tusker are among teams that will be hoping to walk away with the Team of the Year award.

Tusker will have to beat the likes of national rugby Sevens team Shujaa, Talanta FC and two other rugby sides; KCB, Kabras Sugar RFC.

Sports men and women living with disability category

Double World Deaf Athletics champion Simon Kibai and Tokyo Paralympics women’s 1,500 metres T11 bronze medallist Nancy Chelangat are among nominees for 2021 Sportsmen and Women Living with a Disability.

Kibai, who won men’s 10,000m and 5000m titles at the Fourth World Deaf Athletics Championships held August 23-28 at the Lublin Athletics Stadium in Poland, will battle three others athletes for the top honour.

They are Erick Sang and Felix Kipruto, who represented Kenya at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games and Wilson Bii, who won silver in 1,500m at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Dubai in February.

Chelangat with her guide Geoffrey Malel, was the only athlete who won a medal for Kenya at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games with bronze in the T11 1,500m.

 

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