SOYA Awards: Omanyala to battle Kipchoge for SOYA Sportsman of the Year award
| Jan 23rd 2022 | 4 min read
Sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala has been nominated for the Sportsman of the year category for the Sports Personality Year Awards (SOYA) which will have its gala in Kakamega on Tuesday evening.
The sprinter will battle for the top honours against two-time Olympic marathon gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge, rally ace Carl Tundo, rugby player Alvin 'Buffa' Otieno and Tokyo Olympics 800m gold medalist Emmanuel Korir.
Omanyala made history at the Tokyo Olympics Games, becoming the first Kenyan to reach the semifinals in men’s 100 metres.
He went ahead to equal his 100 metres national record with a time of 10.01 in the first round where he wound up third and eventually reached the semi-finals.
Omanyala would later settle for the third position in a new national record time of 10.00 on August 1 even though he failed to make the final.
He moved to Europe where he became the first Kenyan to run under 10 seconds when he won his 100 metres semi-final in a new national record time of 9.96 seconds at the international JOSCO Lauf Meeting on August 14 in Austria.
He would further shave off more micro-seconds winning the final in 9.86 seconds the same day, which was the fastest time run on Australian soil.
He then made his debut at the Diamond League in Brussels on September 3, making him the first Kenyan to compete in 100 metres in the event. He finished fourth in a time of 10.02.
Omanyala went on to break the 100 metres African record finishing second in 9.77 behind America’s Travon Bromel, who won in 9.76 during the Absa Kip Keino Classic.
This made him the fastest man in the world this season behind Bromwell and the eighth fastest man in history.
He had early in the season set a new 100 metres national record when he won his semifinal race at MOC Grand Prix in 10.01 on March 3 in Nigeria to qualify for the Olympic Games before winning the final in 10.05.
He would confirm his Olympic qualification when winning the national trials at the Olympic trials in 10.02 on June 17.
Another player who deserves accolades is fast-rising rugby star Alvin Otieno, aka Buffa.
Otieno was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) at the 2021 Safari Sevens after his incredible performance enabled Shujaa to lift the title at home after defeating Germany 12-5.
He was also the MVP for Kenya at the Vancouver 7’s where Kenya reached the final for the first time since 206, though they lost 33-14 to South Africa to take silver and also guiding the team to clinching bronze at Edmonton 7’s.
He finished fourth overall in the top Tries chat this season World Series with 11 tries, tying with South African captain Siviwe Soyizwapi and two behind the top scorer in South African Muller du Plessis.
Otieno has so far played 64 matches for Kenya, scoring 27 tries.
Also worth mentioning is Motor Sports ace Carl Tundo who is increasingly sending shockwaves in the discipline.
The five-time Safari Rally winner currently leads the Africa Rally Championship after registering victories in the Equator Rally, the tally of Tanzania and Zambia navigated by Tim Jessop in a motorsports Volkswagen Polo RS.
He was ninth overall in the World Rally Championships (WRC) while locally, he leads the Kenya National Rally Championships standings after wins in Machakos, Nanyuki with two legs remaining.
He was placed ninth in the WRC Safari Rally in which Carl Tundo was crowned the Africa Rally Championship winner.
Tundo then won the Gorilla Rally navigated by his longtime partner Tim Jessop.
Kipchoge is yet another athlete who deserves to be decorated for the Sports of Year Ward Award.
The marathon world record holder won the Enschede Marathon in 2.04.30 in Enschede in the Netherlands on April 18 before going on to retain the Olympics marathon title at the 2020 Tokyo SumMer Games in 2.08.38 on August 8.
Besides winning the gold medal in Tokyo, he became the only third person to win two Olympic titles in a marathon and cemented his place as one of the best, if not the best, marathoners of all time.
On September 9, Kipchoge launched the Eliud Kipchoge Foundation that prioritised childhood education and reforestation in part of Kenya.
Another athlete, Emmanuel Korir, also took the country by storm and is already a role model to many.
Korir finished third during the Olympic trials but went on to hand Kenya its first victory at the Tokyo Olympic Games, winning the men's 800 metres in 1.45.06 on August 4 after finishing second in the semifinals.
For starters, this was Korir’s maiden title and which earned him fame from his rural village.
Korir settled third at the Prefontaine Classic and Second at the Lausanne legs of the Diamond League to reach the grand finale in Zurich on September 9 where he went on to lift the Diamond League over 800 metres. He won the race in 1.44.56 which was his second win after the 2018 conquest.
This year's awards are sponsored by Kakamega County, Lotto Foundation, CPF Financial Services, National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and Safaricom.
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