Tergat challenges Kenyan stars to emulate ‘visionary’ Haile

SOYA awards founder, Paul Tergat addresses a gathering during the Kenyan Sport Personality of the ...
FILE)SOYA awards founder, Paul Tergat addresses a gathering during the Kenyan Sport Personality of the Year Awards (SOYA) gala at KICC on January 19, 2017. Two times Olympic 10,000m Champion Ethiopian Haile Gebreslassie (on screen) was chief guest. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha

Five-time World Cross Country champion Paul Tergat – in part of his address during the 2016 Safaricom Sports Personality Awards (SOYA) awards held on Thursday night – challenged Kenya’s sporting stars to fight for leadership roles in their sport.

Citing the example of Ethiopian athletics legend and his long-time track rival Haile Gebrselassie – now the Ethiopian Athletics Federation President – Tergat averred athletes stand a better chance to define courses of action within their disciplines if they took held the power.

The former world marathon record holder had warm words for Gebrselassie who was chief guest at the annual SOYA awards held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) saying he always saw a visionary competitor every time he took him on.

“I want to honor my good friend and rival, Gebrselassie who is with us tonight. It is my prayer that sportsmen especially the young generation will follow his path. When we used to meet in Europe for events, we would sit and talk important issues regarding the sport (athletics) even when tired late at night and everyone else was asleep,” Tergat stated.

On his part Gebrselassie, the two-time 10,000m Olympic gold medallist, honoured Kenya as a great sporting country while saying the two countries shared a mutual dependency in their push to greater heights.

“During my time, the competition between was very tight. And sweet. Can you can imagine how Ethiopia would fair without Kenya in 5,000m and 10,000m?” He posed.

He lauded Tergat for foundering the awards ceremony and for the particularly ‘well organized’ one in which he witnessed.

In turn, he invited the Kenyans to the 2017 Ethiopia Great Run Marathon, the biggest road race in Africa which he founded.

“I have learnt a lot from my friend Tergat, congratulations to him for organising the biggest awards ceremony in Africa.

“I take from people what I don’t have, I will take this as I go back to Addis Ababa,” the ever smiling former double 10,000m Olympic champion offered.

The three-time Dubai marathon winner recollected of all gala awards he has attended in Africa, none had sportspersons from all disciplines recognized.

The 13th SOYA edition was the most expensive ever, with overall Sports Personality (Vivian Cheruyiot) taking home KSh1million up from KSh150,000 last year.

Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year/other categories cash prizes were KSh300,000 up from 100,000 with runners-up and second runners-up also getting cash. Total prize pool was over Ksh.4 million.

The four-time world indoor champion and four-time Berlin marathon winner, called by his fans ‘The Emperor’, has a decorated career that saw him amass medals in various distances ranging from 1,500m, 5,000m, 10,000m, cross country and marathon.

He is remembered for among other exploits, broking 61 Ethiopian national records, and setting 27 world records, hence his reputation as the all time greatest long distance runner.

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