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Battle for sports woman of the year hots up

WOMEN IN SPORTS By Ochieng Oyugi | December 24th 2021 | 3 min read
Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon celebrates winning gold in women's 1500m, at the Tokyo Olympics, in August. [Reuters]

Female rally driver Maxime Wahome has been nominated in the Sports Woman of the year award in this year’s Soya gala slated for Kakamega County, on January 19.

Wahome, who made strides in her debut year as a rally driver, will, however, face stiff competition for the award from 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.

Wahome, who was being navigated by Linet Ayuko on the first season she joined rallying, won the All Ladies crew trophy during the Mountain Gorilla Rally in Rwanda, a leg of the gruelling Africa Rally Championships, where she was sixth overall.

She was seventh overall during the Ramisi Rally where she won the Division Two category and was ranked 14th overall at the first East African Mini Classic.

Jepchirchir perhaps needs no introduction in athletics, the country’s most popular sport after football, following her exploits over the long distance.

The undisputed World Half Marathon champion handed the country its second women’s Olympics marathon title at the Tokyo Summer Games, winning in a time of 2:27.20.

Further, the 28-year-old made her maiden appearance at the World Marathon Majors in New York on November 17, 2021, proving that the gold medal’s win in Tokyo was no fluke as she won the race ahead of compatriot Viola Lagat.

But perhaps unbeknown to many, just like many marathoners, she did not partake in many races apart from the Olympics and of course, the New York Marathon later in the year.

Chepngetich successfully defended her Olympic gold medal with an Olympic record time of 3:53.11, dominated the Diamond League races and won the Kipchoge Keino Classic race.

Another female athlete who stole the limelight was tennis prodigy Okutoyi, who won the International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Tennis Tour juniors grade four championships singles in January and February in Nairobi as well as the doubles.

A go-getter in junior tennis circles, Angela won the Grade 3 Doubles in Cairo, Egypt in August and reached the semifinals in the singles category. Not to be outdone, she reached the semifinals of the same competition in October this year.

Currently, the 17 year-old is ranked third in the Confederation of African Tennis (CAT) and 155th in the world junior ranking.

In November, Okutoyi upset the system when she became the first Kenyan to win the 18 and under Africa junior championship title after vanquishing Morocco’s Aya El Aouni by straight sets of 6-3, 6-3.

In women’s football, Kenya had its own wonder in the form of international Jentrix Shikanga, who plays for Vihiga Queens in the national Premier League.

Shikangwa scored seven goals in the inaugural 2021 Confederation of African Football (CAF) Women’s Champions League Cacafa qualifiers.

Shikangwa netted a brace in the match against Ethiopia’s CBE and was voted the Most Valuable Player (MVP).

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