‘Greatest star’ Kipchoge steals SOYA show
Published on: January 25, 2020 01:06 (EAT)
Dubbed “Night Under the Stars, with the Stars”, the 16th edition of the Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Award (SOYA) was a superb affair to behold as organisers pulled out all the stops to deliver a memorable occasion. The country’s sports stars who had excelled in different disciplines last year descended in Mombasa on Friday night for the event held in an open ground with decorating lights turned the venue into a starry spectacle. The latest edition of the annual SOYA Awards scored high in the fashion stakes with the World record holder Eliud Kipchoge ditching his signature black suit for a pure white outfit. The Olympic champion’s arrival elicited boisterous applause from the crowd with their excitement serving as recognition for a man that would become the night’s biggest winner. Although he was widely expected to win the award for the second year in a row, Kipchoge kept his usual poise as he waited for perhaps the confirmation that many expected. For other categories however it was a case of finer details separating the nominees. A case in point is the Female Athlete of the Year where world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri emerged top in a star-studded line up that kept the crowd guessing who of the five would reign supreme. Obiri was up against world marathon record holder Brigid Kosgei, world 3000m steeplechase champion Beatrice Chepkoech, world marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich and musclewoman Evelyne Okinyi Owala. After winning the award, Obiri was quick to point out the level of competition she was up against. “It is almost like a surprise for me because there were good at least as well in the shortlist. For me however I think that I did my best through the long season from Cross-Country to World Championships and I think this is my reward,” said Obiri. Once he was announced the Male Athlete of the Year and later the Overall Sports Personality of the Year, Kipchoge took to the podium and narrated what achieving the sub-two-hour marathon at the historic INEOS race meant. “Because I have been named the sports personality of the year, I want to say that sports is the only way to unite the whole world. My dream is to make running a lifestyle and leave with you a legacy of ‘No Human is Limited,” he said. The event also brought together the entire ministry of Sports led by the Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, Chief Administrative Secretary Hassan Noor Hassan and the new Principal Secretary Joe Okudo. Mombasa County Deputy Governor William Kingi represented his boss Ali Hassan Joho.