Athletics Kenya has announced the final nominees for male and female categories of the Athlete of the Year awards.
The winners will be unveiled Thursday at the Fifth Athletics Kenya Golden Gala at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, where Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi will be the chief guest.
AK chief executive officer Isaac Mwangi disclosed yesterday that the red-carpet ceremony will seek to reward Kenya’s top performing athletes over the season.
The gala failed to take place last year.
Mwangi said a sub-committee comprising sports journalists vetted and whittled down the long list of nominees to six for the top award in the male category.
The nominees are World champions Julius Yego (javelin), Ezekiel Kemboi (3,000 metres steeplechase), Nicholas Bett (400m hurdles), Asbel Kiprop (1,500m) and David Rudisha (800m), as well as World Cross Country and World 10,000m silver medallist Geoffrey Kamworor.
Berlin Marathon champion Gladys Cherono and World Cross champion Agnes Jebet are among five athletes for the Female award. Others in the category are World champions Vivian Cheruiyot (10,000m) and Hyvin Kiyeng (3,000m steeplechase), World marathon silver medallist Hela Kiprop and World 800m bronze medallist Eunice Sum.
Yego broke the national record four times besides setting a Diamond League record on his way to the World title, the only one by a Kenyan in field events. After winning his maiden Diamond League title in Birmingham with a record 91.39 metres, Yego won the World title in Beijing in a massive throw of 92.72m, a new African record and third all-time world best.
The evergreen and elegant Kemboi bagged an unprecedented fourth consecutive World steeplechase gold medal at the 2009 Berlin, 2011 Daegu and 2013 Moscow Worlds.
Bett stunned many when he won the World 400m hurdles title, the only one by a Kenyan in the sprints, while Kiprop nudged Hicham El Guerrouj’s 3:26.00 world record when he ran the third fastest 1,500m to win in Monaco in 3:26.69 but completed a hat trick of World titles over the distance with victory in Beijing.
Kamworor’s performance cut across the board — a World Cross gold and World 10,000m silver — while Rudisha made a comeback to reclaim the World 800m title.
Cherono and Jebet are favourites to win the Female award.
Cherono got the best all-time average when she finished second 2:20:03 in Dubai Marathon on her debut over the distance before winning in Berlin with a personal best 2:19:25.
Cheruiyot made a great return from maternity break to reclaim the World 10,000m title while Kiyeng pulled a surprise to win the 3,000m steeplechase gold.
Other categories include the Young Athlete of the Year, Long Distance Athlete, Field Athlete and Cross Country Award for both men and women. A man and a woman will be bestowed with the Outstanding Performance of the Year and one recognised for the Comeback of the Year while a dozen legends of the past will be indicted into the Hall of Fame.