Bodybuilder Evelyne Okinyi Owala will battle three world champions and a World Marathon record holder from athletics for Sports Woman of the Year during the 2019 Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Awards (Soya).
The winner of this coveted category will be known during the 2019 Soya gala slated for January 24 in Mombasa.
Owala has her fingers crossed after making the shortlist of five alongside World champions Hellen Obiri (5,000m), Ruth Chepng’etich (Marathon) and Beatrice Chepkoech (3,000m steeplechase).
There is also World Marathon record holder Brigid Kosgei, who is also the London and Chicago Marathon champion.
This year apart from Safaricom as the title sponsor, the gala has also been sponsored by the County Government of Mombasa, Communications Authority of Kenya, National Social Security Fund (NSSF), DStv, GOtv, UBA Bank among others.
Owala entered her name in the annals of history when she won the 2019 African title in the Wellness Division held in Angola. She also clinched the Arnold Classic during the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Championships held in South Africa.
Owala finished third in the 2019 IFBB World Cup amateur competition after finishing 10th at the Arnold Classic event in Europe. She is one of the top exponents in her category worldwide to qualify for the elite pro league where she will compete this year, thus becoming the first Kenyan female to do so and the third in Africa.
However, it will not be a walk in the park for Owala taking into consideration the indefatigable world-beating athletes. One of them is no doubt the 25-year-old Chepng’etich who incidentally opened Kenya’s medal account at the 2019 World Championships in Doha as she raced to gold in extremely punishing conditions.
Chepng’etich headed to the World Championships with a world leading time of 2:17:08 with victory at the Dubai Marathon in January, a time that stood until Brigid Kosgei broke the world record at the Chicago Marathon in October.
Chepng'etich’s time was ranked third all-time best behind Paula Radcliffe and Mary Keitany.
Brigid, 25, started the year in style with victory at the London Marathon, beating a strong field that included Olympic 5,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot.
In Chicago, Brigid obliterated the women’s world record that stood for 16 years, clocking 2:14:04 to erase legendary Paula Radcliffe’s record by 1 minute 24 seconds as she defended the Chicago Marathon.
Obiri started the season with a bang, winning the World Cross Country title in Aarhus, Denmark.
The 2016 Olympic 5,000m silver medallist would retain her World 5000m title in Doha, setting a new Championship Record time of 14:26.72 to lead compatriot Margaret Chelimo in a 1-2 podium finish.
Chepkoech, 29, on top of winning her first ever world title in Doha, she reigned supreme on the Diamond League front, clinching the overall title.