Preparations to stage the fifth Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Award have been finalised with founder member Paul Tergat saying the successful candidates will be the best and deserving to win.
Tergat, who was briefing the press at KICC, said Kenya’s performance across the board last year in regional, continental and international event has raised the bar and handed the panel of judges a selection headache.
“Kenya had the best ever Olympics in Beijing, our Rugby team did well, Harambee Stars have finally got it right and all the other disciplines have put in a little more to rank high in the international scene. They all deserve to be credited, but we only pick the best of the best,” he said.
The Gala to honour the sportsmen will be held at the KICC plenary hall on January 23 and will be beamed live across the country by Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).
“I thank the public, their response has been overwhelming. We have received thousands of text messages picking on their preferred candidates. The task has not been simple for the judges,” said Tergat.
“This in essence is what sports is all about, competition.”
Mozambique’s multiple world champion in the 800m, Maria Mutola, will be the chief guest at the awards.
“All the arrangements are in place for the ceremony and we have also finalised the arrangements to have Mutola here for the gala,” said Tergat.
Organisers on Monday received a shot in the arm with Nokia Siemens Networks chipping in Sh500,000. Country director Alain Van Hemelen said he looked forward for a continuous partnership with the sportsmen in the country.
“The most important thing is the recognition back at home when these athletes come back. They had their success in Beijing, but being honoured at home, is the best,” he said.
Tergat said it was important for the local corporate companies to come in and be associated with the best talent on Kenyan land.
Safaricom picked up the idea when Tergat presented it to them five years ago and have since increased their sponsorship to a Sh5 million. Winners in both men and women Sports personality of the year will get Sh150,000.
Among the short listed candidates for nomination are basketball star Caroline Achieng, Collins Injera of the Kenya seven-a-side rugby national team together with the IAAF $1 million jackpot winner Pamela Jelimo and Olympic men’s marathon winner Samuel Wanjiru. Also on the short list is swimmer Jason Dunford.
The other categories to be honoured will include most promising boy and girl, the special category, the coach of the Year and Best Federation awards.