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Olunga goes face to face with Kipchoge

Last updated 9 months ago | By Dennis Okeyo

Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga. [The Standard Group]

Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga and World Marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge headline the 2019 Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Awards in the Sportsman-of-the-Year category ahead of the gala night to be held in Mombasa County on January 24.

The organisers have also shortlisted world 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot, Olympic and world champion Conseslus Kipruto and World Half Marathon record holder Geoffrey Kamworor to fight for the award.

Olunga became the first Kenyan to score a brace at the Africa Cup of Nations as he helped Kenya beat Tanzania 3-2 in a group stage clash in Egypt in June last year.

At club level, Olunga who plies his trade for Japanese team Kashiwa Reysol, scored 29 goals and provided nine assists in 33 appearances in all competitions with 27 goals in the league and two were in the domestic cup.

In August this year, Olunga was crowned the player of the month after scoring his first hat-trick for Kashiwa Reysol against Renofa Yamaguchi as they hammered Renofa 4-1.

The Harambee Stars forward will take on Kipchoge who hit world headlines when he became the first man to complete the marathon distance in under two hours.

Kipchoge started off 2019 by winning London Marathon for a record fourth time in 2:02:37. Then in October he became the first man to run the marathon distance in under two hours when he timed 1:59:40 in a specially arranged race in Vienna.

As for Timothy, he had an impressive 2019 both locally and in Diamond League meetings winning 10 out of 11 races and that included the ultimate race in Doha where he raced to a first gold medal at the IAAF World Championships. He also won the Diamond League trophy.

Another star making the list is steeplechaser Conseslus who is remembered for his breathtaking dash to win gold in Doha following a troubled 2019 season where he had never won any race before the World Championships due to a nagging ankle injury that saw him pull out of races and even dropped out of the Africa Games in Morocco after four laps. 

The final nominee is Kamwaror, who hopes to outwit the other four nominees. In November, the 26-year-old took the men’s race at the New York Marathon clocking 2:08:13 and winning the event for the second time in three years.

In September, Kamworor took 17 seconds off the World Record at the Copenhagen Half Marathon winning the race in 58:01.

Apart from Safaricom as the title sponsor, this year’s gala has also been sponsored by the County Government of Mombasa, Kenya Pipeline, Communications Authority, New KCC, Lapfund, Kenya Power, UBA Bank, Nairobi Bottlers, Kenya Ports Authority, NHIF, NSSF, Kenya Tourism Board and GOtv.


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