Who will be the fairest of them all now that the list of Kenya’s 2017 Safaricom Sportsman of the Year Award (SOYA) nominees list is out?
Athlete Mary Moraa, who is fondly known as Kisii Express, alongside AFC Leopards’ fast rising striker Vincent Oburu have been nominated in the most promising personality of the year in the girls and boys categories respectively.
The reward is given out annually by a panel of the country’s top sports journalists to reward exceptional performance by the country’s sportsmen and women.
Moraa, a student at Mongaga Secondary School, was picked to contest for the honours after winning a rare medal for Kenya in sprints at the IAAF World Under-18 Athletics championships held in Nairobi in July this year.
The reigning East Africa Secondary Schools champion is remembered for bringing the crowd on its feet after bagging the 400 m silver.
Moraa will face challenge for the Soya crown from Lawn Tennis wonder girl Angela Okutoyi, whose achievements include being the zonal under-14 champion in both singles and doubles category.
Another contestant in the category is much improved cricket player Vanessa Adhiambo.
As for Oburu, the panellists shortlisted him for the awards in the boys category after coming through AFC Leopards’ junior ranks to play in his first KPL season, besides helping the team reach the GOtv Shield Cup final and eventually clinch the crown.
Oburu emerged the second highest scorer in the knock-out tournament with five goals.
In the boys' category, Oburu will fight it out with cricket prodigies Abishek Chidambaran and Aman Gandhi following their immense contribution to the national under-19 team
A bowler with the national junior team as well Stray Lions Club, Chidambaran was nominated for the award following his great show in the continental junior world cup qualifiers.
Curiously, this year, the 17-year-old spinner has taken 23 wickets in nine innings for the national team, which is the highest so far. Not to be outdone, Gandhi who is a batsman is chasing the Soya honours after being key to the team’s qualification to next year’s International Cricket Council World Junior Championships.
Another nominee is Sheila Kotecha of Lawn Tennis and who is ranked 5th and 180th respectively in Africa and world in the racket sport.
In the sportsman living with disability, athletes Samuel Muchai, Jon Koech and Lucas Wanjiru were nominated for the awards.
Muchai made it to the list after a stellar performance at the 2017 World Paralympics Games where he won two gold medals, among other achievements.
Lucas Wanjiru was also shortlisted for not only winning gold at the 2017 Deaflympic Games held in Samsun, Turkey, but also breaking the 3000 steeplechase Deaflympic world record with a time of 9.04.62.
Exponent Emmanuel Karisa will also rub shoulders with the rest of the nominees for being the only Kenyan to win a medal in the first Africa Paralympic Tae Kwondo Championships held in Rwanda.
Full list of SOYA nominees:
Most Promising Personality Of The Year Boy
Vincent Oburu (Football)
Abishek Chidambaran (Cricket)
Aman Gandhi (Cricket)
Sheila Kotecha (Lawn Tennis)
Most Promising Personality Of The Year Girl
Mary Moraa (Athletics)
Angela Okutoyi (Lawn Tennis)
Vanessa Adhiambo (Cricket)
Sportsman Living With Disability
Samuel Muchai (Athletics)
Lucas Wanjiru (Athletics)
Daniel Kiptum (Deaflympics)
Emmanuel Karisa (Tae Kwondo)
Sportswomen Living With Disability
Nelly Sile (Athletics)
Purity Mueni (Sitting Volleyball)
Hannah Wakonyo (Deaflympics)
Beril Wamira (Deaflympics