Stellar casts shortlisted for Soya Most Promising category
Close battles for the honours will play out in the 2016 Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year (SOYA) most promising categories with stellar casts making the shortlist in both the boys and girls categories less than a fortnight before the January 19 gala in Nairobi.
In the boy’s category, Japan-based Amos Kirui, 18, who won the 3,000m steeplechase race at the World Junior Championships in a time of 8:20.43, shocking pre-race favourite Getnet Wale of Ethiopia, leads a strong field of five nominees for the award.
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Kirui who will fight for the honours against Bett Kipyegon who ran a World Junior leading time of 13:25.19 in Kanaguri in April and won the 10,000m Konusu Race in Japan where he clocked 28:08, Motorsport’s Jet Tukunnen, footballer Joseph Okumu and Ryan Randiek of Tennis,
Kipyegon won the Wolrd Junior 800m title in Bydgoszcz, beating Willy Tarbei who had beaten him two years ago and in the process finished the season ranked 12th in the 800m race before he graduated to the senior ranks, while 10-year old TukKunen has been outstanding in the Motorcross scene, securing the MX 65 class title before the last round of the competition.
Lanky footballer is also a potential winner of the category having risen rapidly in his football career, moving from Kakamega High School to Kenyan Premier League side Chemelil Sugar and joining professional ranks at South African Premier League with top side Free State Stars where he has started in eight of their matches so far.
Randiek is the fifth nominee in this category, having been ranked second in the Africa Boys 14 years and under. He helped Kenya win the Regional Confederation of African Tennis (CAT) title in January 2016 and is the only Kenyan boy taking part in the 14 years and below CAT African Masters tournament.
In the girls category, Harambee Starlets’ hero Mwanahalima Adamu who played an integral part in the team’s qualification for their maiden Africa Cup of Nations tournament, despite the fact that she missed the continental showpiece as she was seating for her Form Four exams during the same time.
She was voted the Airtel Rising Stars’ Most Valuable Player in East Africa after she steered her school St Johns of Mombasa to the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) title and helped them to reach the finals of the East Africa championships.
Other nominees in the category include teenage sprinter Maurine Thomas who had a solid season that saw her claim the fifth spot during the finals of the IAF World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland where she ran a personal best of 52.09, golfer Kelly Gachaga who brought Naomi Wafula’s dominance in the sport to a halt as she was crowned the new Kenya Amateur Stroke Play champion and also won the Kenya Amateur Match Play Championship.
Tennis player Sneha Kotecha who won a continental title, the CAT 14 and under Masters Tournament, is also in the race as well as volleyball player Yvonne Wavinya who was named the best overall attacker at the Africa Nations Volleyball under-23 championships where Kenya finished second.
The 2016 Safaricom Soya Awards will be held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) and is also being co-sponsored by Lotto, Kenya Pipeline Company and KTB, Communication Authority, NHIF, NSSF, Multichoice and SuperSport.