Hellen Obiri and Elijah Manangoi named 2017 Female and Male athletes of the year

[PHOTO: COURTESY]

Elijah Manangoi and Hellen Obiri are this year's male and female Athletes of the Year.

The two, who had an amazing season, were awarded yesterday night during the Athletics Kenya Awards at Panari Hotel.

After finishing second during 2015 Beijing World Championships, Narok County-born Manangoi became one of the most consistent and dominant athletes this year as he won seven out of 13 races he competed in.

Early this year at the Monaco Diamond League meeting, Manangoi, 24, set the fastest time in 1500m, crossing the line in 3:28.80.

Later in August, he restored Kenya’s pride in 1,500m after he conquered the globe during the IAAF London World Championships.

Manangoi beat strong opponents, including World Marathon Champion Geoffrey Kirui and 3000m Steeplechase Champion Conseslus Kipruto, to the coveted title. Manangoi also bagged the Middle Distance Athlete of the year award.

Impressive Obiri also a double winner at the red-carpet evening event as she won the Female Athlete of the Year and Long Distance Athlete of year awards.

Obiri, 28, lived up to expectations this season as the Olympic 5,000m silver medallist shattered the six-year-old 5,000m national record, shaving off two minutes at the Rome Diamond League in June with a new time of 4:18.37.

The Kisii-born Obiri later won the World 5,000m title London with a dominant kick to silent her Ethiopian rival Almaz Ayana. Obiri then ended the track season with a Diamond League title over the distance in Brussels.  

Other contenders in the female athlete of the year crown were World 1,500m champion Faith Chepngetich and World marathon silver medallist Edna Kiplagat.

Young athlete of the year

Other big winners of the night were Leonard Bett, who was named the Young Athlete of the Year beating George Manangoi, Dominic Ndigiti to the crown. Bett won 2,000m steeplechase title at the IAAF World Under-18 Championships at Kasarani, while the younger Manangoi was victorious in boys' 1,500m race.

Dominic Ndigiti claimed the country’s first medal at the event, a bronze medal in 10,000m walk.

In the female category, World Under-18 2,000m steeplechase championship Caren Chebet won the contest against Jackline Wambui and Immaculate Chepkirui.

Coach of the year

Having changed the criteria for selecting the coach of the year, the panelists opted to award grassroots trainers this time round.

Kericho-based Japheth Kemei, who ventured into coaching in 2000, was named coach of the year ahead of Bernard Ouma and Barnaba Kitilit.

Kemei, 63, and former teacher at Kapsorok Primary School, has handled stars such as 2017 World 800m bronze medallist Kipyegon Bett, 2016 Diamond League trophy winner Ferguson Rotich, 3,000m steeplechase Commonwealth Games champion Purity Cherotich Kirui and Japhet Korir, who won 2015 IAAF world cross country title.

Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) Chairman Kimutai Ngetich, who died earlier in the year in a road accident, was awarded post-humorously the Athletics Kenya Golden award for his exemplary contribution to athletics in Keringet region, while Mary Moraa, World Under-18 400m silver medallist, was recognised for her great performance this season. 

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