Last updated 8 months ago | By Ernest Ndunda
There are high expectations as the 2020 Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Awards (Soya) gala gets underway at Mombasa Sports Club tonight.
Themed a “Night Under the Stars, with the Stars,” the 2019 Soya is being held in Mombasa for the second year in a row. The County Government of Mombasa partnered with Safaricom to sponsor the event among other sponsors.
No sportsman or woman from outside athletics has won the overall title since the introduction of the category in 2011 and only long-distance athlete Vivian Cheruiyot has managed to win the overall title twice in 2011 and 2016.
However, only two athletes from outside athletics have won the Sportsman of the Year Award- swimmer Jason Dunford in 2007 and sevens superstar Collin Injera in 2009.
Two Paralympians have won top accolades at Soya. Henry Wanyoike won the inaugural 2004 Sportsman of the Year while Samuel Mushai clinched the overall title in 2018.
Can the Sportsmen and women living with a Disability outwit the Sportsmen and women to the coveted overall title especially with protagonists in all the categories having left some of the memorable performances in 2019?
Well, things also look interesting in the Sportsmen and women categories and the Persons Living with a Disability too.
Muscle woman Evelyne Okinyi Owala is eying to upset the formbook as she battles three world champions and a World Marathon record holder from athletics for Sports Woman of the Year.
Owala has her fingers crossed after making to the final five alongside world champions Hellen Obiri (5,000m), Ruth Chepng’etich (marathon) and Beatrice Chepkoech (3,000m steeplechase).
There is also the world marathon record holder Brigid Kosgei, who is also the London and Chicago Marathon winner.
No footballer has ever won the Sportsman of the Year Award but the focus will be on Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga, who faces an armada of athletics big shots that include world 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot, Olympic and world champion Conseslus Kipruto, world half marathon record holder Geoffrey Kamworor and world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge.
Owala made history when she won the 2019 African title in the Wellness Division held in Angola. She also clinched the Arnold Classic during the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Championships in South Africa.
Owala finished third in the 2019 IFBB World Cup after finishing 10th at the Arnold Classic event in Europe. She qualified for the elite pro league where she will compete this year, making history as the first Kenyan female.
Chepng’etich opened Kenya’s medal account at the 2019 World Championships in Doha with victory in women’s marathon besides posting 2:17:08 to win Dubai Marathon by the third-fastest time in history by them. Brigid, 25, won the London Marathon to set the stage for her exploits at Chicago Marathon where broke the women’s world record that stood for 16 years, clocking 2:14:04. She erased Paula Radcliffe’s record by 1 minute 24 seconds.
Obiri won the World Cross Country title in Aarhus, Denmark before retaining her World 5000m title in Doha, setting a new championship record time of 14:26.72. She had finished fourth in 10,000m race.
Chepkoech won her first-ever world title in 3,000m steeplechase in Doha and also retained her Diamond League trophy title.
Olunga became the first Kenyan to score a brace at the Africa Cup of Nations as he spurred Kenya to a 3-2 victory against Tanzania.