Omanyala and Kipyegon rule Soya Awards
Sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala was Tuesday night named the 2021 Sportsman of the Year in a glamorous 18th edition of the Sports Personality of the Year Awards (Soya) ceremony hosted at the Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega. Omanyala pipped rally ace Carl Tundo and Tokyo Olympics 800m gold medallist Emmanuel Korir.
The awards, sponsored by Kakamega County, the Lotto Foundation, CPF Financial Services, National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and Safaricom, were held in Kakamega for the first time ever.
Omanyala made history at the Tokyo Olympics Games, becoming the first Kenyan to reach the semi-final in the 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.
He 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 then 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 microseconds, winning the final in 9.86 seconds the same day, which was the fastest time run on Australian soil.
In the same year he 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.
“I am so excited to have won this title. I used to just watch these awards on television for the last three years and I can’t believe that I’m the one being awarded today,” Omanyala told People Sport.
In the corresponding women’s category, double Olympic 1500m Champion Faith Kipyegon took the award ahead of Olympic marathon queen Peres Jepchirchir and Brigid Kosgei.
“I won the most promising award in 2012 and to win the Sportswoman of the Year almost 10 years later makes me very elated,” Kipyegon said.
Tokyo 2020 Paralympics bronze medallist Nancy Chelangat won the Sportswoman Living with a Disability gong as Deaflympian Simon Kibai scooped the men’s award.
Omanyala, who had a sensational 2021 season, breaking the African 100m record and reaching the Olympics semis, floored world record holder and two-time back-to-back Soya winner, Eliud Kipchoge and 800m Olympic Gold medallist Emmanuel Korir to be named the best.
The Most Promising Boy award went to Heristone Wanyonyi who wrote history as the first Kenyan to win the World Under-20 walk race while the most promising girl award was won by Teresia Muthoni, the 3,000m champion from the World U20 Championships.
Charles Okere was feted as the Coach of the Year while his team Vihiga Queens toppled Kenya Rugby Lionesses and Beach Volleyball team to win the Sports Team of the Year.
Shujaa was named as the team of the year, beating FKF Premier League champions Tusker FC.