Last updated 1 year ago | By Dennis Okeyo and Ernest Ndunda
Sporting fraternity will tonight pay closer attention than usual as the highly anticipated 15th edition of Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year (SOYA) goes down at the iconic Fort Jesus Museum, in Mombasa.
Soya Founder Paul Tergat lauded the Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho for embracing the event and said the awards will soon be rolled out to other counties.
“It’s a historic moment for Soya to be celebrated outside Nairobi for the first time and I appreciate Governor Joho for accepting our idea of hosting the event in Mombasa," said Tergat.
“I’m sure in the coming years, other counties will be interested in associating and celebrating our sports stars,” said Tergat.
Africa and world's fastest women sprinter Marie-Josee Ta Lou from Ivory Coast, who arrived in the country on Wednesday, is the event’s chief guest.
"I live in Africa, train in Africa and I started my athletics in Africa and I would, therefore, want to encourage as many athletes as possible to rise to my level in the continent which is very possible,” said Ta Lou.
With no doubt, the main focus will be on the overall sports personality of the year award.
With Olympics champion and World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge and World Boxing Commission (WBC) super-bantamweight champion Fatuma Zarika in the mix, it will be too close to call.
Kipchoge will battle for top honors with rugby player William Ambaka, footballer Patrick Matasi, fellow runners Elijah Manangoi and Conseslus Kipruto.
On her part, Zarika faces a challenge from World 5,000m Champion Hellen Obiri, Kenya Lionesses starlet Janet Okello, world steeplechase record holder Beatrice Chepkoech and World Under-20 3,000m steeplechase champion Celliphine Chespol.
Meanwhile, National Social Security Fund (NSSF) yesterday joined the list of sponsors with a donation of Sh2 million.
Other co-sponsors include Safaricom, Kenya Pipeline Corporation, Mombasa County Government, Communications Authority of Kenya, Multichoice Kenya, National Social Security Fund, KenyaPower, Kenya Ports Authority, New KCC and Lapfund.
"The NSSF has sponsored Soya Awards for the last five years and we are glad to participate Again this year," says NSSF corporate affairs manager Chris Khisa. We have focused on sports as one of the areas in our CSR that will also help in enhancing youth talent tapping from the grassroots level."