Okutuyi top on SOYA list
Tennis star Angela Okutoyi is battling it out with Faith Kipyegon, Mary Moraa, Beatrice Chebet, Sharon Chepchumba, Naomi Wafula, Peres Jepchirchir and Janet Okello for the 2022 Sports Personality of the Year Awards (SOYA) women category.
The awards promise to be a tough fight for the top prize going by the list of nominees that have been shortlisted especially for the sportswoman of the year category.
Okutoyi had an outstanding year but will have to be pitted against some world athletics champions as well as others from volleyball, basketball and boxing. The tennis sensation made history by becoming the first ever Kenyan to win a Grand Slam following her girls’ double victory at the Wimbledon tournament alongside Dutch partner Rose Marie Nijkamp.
She also won the doubles in the J1 Repentin competition alongside Polish partner Malwina Rowinska in Canada after gallantly rallying from behind where they trailed 3-6 in the first set against fourth seeds German Ella Seidel and Belgian Amelia Waligora.
The 19th edition of the gala returns to Nairobi after three years which saw it held in Mombasa, Naivasha and Kakamega and it will be held at the Kenyatta International Convetion Centre on January 1.
The gala sponsors include Communications Authority, NSSF, Kenya Pipeline, Lotto Foundation and Safaricom.
Okutoyi will face 1,500m world champion Faith Kipyegon and two other track queens Mary Moraa and Beatrice Chebet. Kipyegon was able to add the world title to the Olympic gold medal that she won at the 2020 Olympics Games. She also won the 1,500m Diamond League trophy after another outstanding season which saw her narrowly miss the world record held by Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba over the distance.
On her part, Moraa had a superb 2022 season by first winning a bronze medal in 800m race at the World Championships in Oregon before going for gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. She also went ahead to bag the 800m Diamond League trophy after winning at the finals in Zurich.
Another track star Beatrice Chebet won silver in the 5000m race at the Oregon games before crowning it with gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and a Diamond League trophy.
Volleyball ace Sharon Chepchumba will however be hoping to break the dominance of track stars and also beat Okutoyi to the top prize.
Chepchumba started her season by leading her club, KCB Bank to the continental volleyball championship title in Tunisia after beating pre-tournament favourites Al Ahly of Egypt. Chumba as she is popularly known was also outstanding for the national team Malkia Strikers as they won their first match at the World Championships.
Golfer Naomi Wafula is also in the mix to win the top award. The 24-year-old golfer won five key events in one year, namely the Kenya Ladies Golf Union (KLGU), Karen Ladies Open, Limuru Ladies Open, Eldoret Ladies Open and Vipingo Ladies Open.
During the same period, she also managed a second-place finish at the Kenya Ladies Open Amateur, Strokeplay Championship, Kitale Ladies Open, Nyeri Ladies Open, Leisure Ladies Open, Nyali Ladies Open and Thika Ladies Open.
Wafula also represented Kenya at 2022 All Africa Challenge Trophy where she steered the national team to a fourth-place finish. She was a quarterfinalist at the Kenya Ladies Open Amateur Matchplay Championship and played in two Ladies European Tour events, the Magical Kenya Ladies Open at Vipingo Ridge in February and the Amundi German Masters in Michendorf, Germany in July.
Boston Marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir is also among those who have been nominated for the award alongside other athletes in the 3,000m steeplechase, Commonwealth Games champion Jackline Chepkoech and Chicago Marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich.
Rugby player Janet Okello who was the top scorer at the 2022 Sevens Challenger series and rally driver Maxine Wahome are also nominated for the sportswoman of the year award.
The 19th edition of the (SOYA) gala will be held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) on January 20, 2023.
The gala returns to Nairobi after being held in Kakamega, Naivasha and Mombasa in the last four editions. This time, SOYA Awards has 11 categories including a return of the schools’ categories, which were missed during the last gala, since there were no school games due to COVID-19.