The Sportsman of the Year Awards. Nominate Today and stand a Chance to win Free Tickets for 4 to the Soya Awards 2012                

The SOYA Awards that are slated to take place in December have officially begun their preparations. The awards which   have been the platform for recognizing and celebrating Kenyan sportsmen and women is in its 8th year now. The first press function took place at the intercontinental hotel where the National Bank of Kenya presented their sponsorship.

Deputy Managing Director, Customer Services NBK, Mr. Isaiah Mworia Presents SOYA sponsorship cheque to SOYA founder and Chairman, Mr. Paul Tergat flanked by Mr. Chris Mbaisi, Chairman of the SOYA panel 2011.

Paul Tergat the SOYA chairman and founder noted the invaluable contribution, efforts and successes of the sports fraternity in Kenya. He urged the Bank to continue their tradition of a deep sense of responsibility for the community through initiatives such as this.

He also assured the Bank, sports fans and the public at large that this year’s SOYA awards will be of a higher standard and that he is committed to ensure a well organized gala come the awards, whereby every deserving sportsperson will enjoy fair and objective selection as per the established criteria. “We have established a very credible vetting process over the years and we intend to keep the same this year and after”, he said.

The public will be able to participate by forwarding their nominees for the various categories and the Founder urged that everyone participate fully so as to give every sportsperson a fair chance to contest.

This year has plenty of extremely top level competitions locally, continentally and globally. The soya awards panel will be following keenly the performances of the sports people.

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The Title Sponsors - Safaricom

Safaricom Ltd has once again announced its title sponsorship for the annual sports personality of the year awards, popularly known as SOYA.

Making the announcement at the Company headquarters, where he announced a KES 7 Million sponsorship, Mr Bob Collymore, Safaricom Chief Executive Officer, paid glowing tribute to Paul Tergat for founding the awards 8 years ago. He lauded the initiative, which recognizes outstanding athletes from every sport each year and the unique role that sports continue to play in shaping the identity of Kenya.

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore presents a cheque of Ksh 7 million  to SOYA founder and chair Paul  Tergat and panelist chris mbaisi towards this years soya awards.

“SOYA is about honouring the pinnacle of commitment and competition in sports. It is the ultimate recognition event for excellence in sports in Kenya, paying tribute to dedication, discipline, hard work and victories of our sportsmen and women”, observed Mr. Collymore, adding that they will continue to support SOYA going into the future.

On his part, Mr Tergat thanked Safaricom Ltd for its faith, confidence and support in the awards’ scheme since its inception, terming SOYA the pioneer reward programme, which has inspired other similar appreciation of our athletes by the Government and other stakeholders.

Noting the great strides that SOYA has made over the last eight years, Tergat said that the event now caters for virtually any kind of sports person in its 14 categories. He attributed this growth to the collective efforts of all Kenyans, sponsors and athletes who have ensured we remain a sporting giant in the world.

“Soya will continue to recognize all sportsmen and women who demonstrate and espouse the true spirit of sportsmanship and patriotism”, he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Tergat has announced a new category to the sports awards that will go to the most outstanding sports person from either male or female categories so as to take SOYA to a new level.

“This category will seek to crown the individual, who will be a notch above everyone else in terms of achievement, character and consistency...this is the overall soya champion- THE SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR”, Tergat said. He urged corporate organizations to join the awards through sponsorship so as to enable the expansion and higher returns through rewards to our garland sports heroes and heroines.

Other details concerning this new category, which he asked the panel to work on diligently, will be announced as the planning for the gala ceremony in December gathers momentum.

The Title Sponsors - Safaricom
Past News Headlines


NAIROBI (August 22) — The Safaricom Sports personality of the Year Awards, popularly known by its acronym—SOYA—continues to attract blue-chip sponsors in an unprecedented manner.

SOYA has since 2004 pioneered in this area by organizing annual gala dinner to reward exceptional performances in sports and in the community, which is only heard of at the global stage like FIFA, IAAF and IOC Gala Nights.

Its founder Dr. Paul Tergat having scaled the heights of global sports excellence approached like-minded people in the corporate world and media and came up with these awards that appreciate and recognize talented sportsmen and women and heroes and heroines who have made Kenya a global sporting nation.

Mobile telephony service provider, Safaricom has remained the title sponsor since inception in 2004, adding the sponsorship purse from a generous Ksh2.3 million at inauguration seven years ago to a whooping Ksh7 million, which it donated to the organizers of the annual event in August 2011.

If the most profitable company in the whole East and Central African region are the title sponsors, there must be something special about SOYA. This probably explains the addition of other blue chip companies like National Bank of Kenya, with one of the largest branch network in the country. NBK had earlier on donated Ksh3 million, having started with Ksh1 million three years ago.

Other generous sponsors are expected to announce their sponsorship in due course either as continued partnership or debut sponsors towards rewarding these crème’ de la crème of Kenyan sports people. Some of the past sponsors of the awards include the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK), Multichoice Kenya Limited, National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), Deacons Kenya Ltd, and National Social Security Fund (NSSF) to mention but a few.

Meanwhile, the public has welcomed the introduction of the overall winner’s category, which will begin at this year’s gala night on December 9.

Outgoing Panel Chairman, Chris Mbaisi of The Star could not have been more succinct during the title sponsorship cheque hand-over ceremony at Safaricom Headquarters a week ago: “We decided to come up with this category owing to the disparity of individual performances in their fields. For example, it was felt someone like Rudisha (David) was not supposed to be rewarded on the same scale as the female counterpart last year after dominating the world 800m race. He needed to take home a prize of higher significance apart from winning in the men’s category.”

During the announcement at the function graced by Dr Tergat, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore noted that “Soya is about honouring the pinnacle of commitment and competition in sports. It is the ultimate recognition event for excellence in sports in Kenya, paying tribute to dedication, discipline, hard work and victories of our sportsmen and women.” He assured of his Company’s continued support for Soya, going into the future.

“Sufficient sponsorship will enable us make the awards more glamorous and award generously to the many deserving athletes and also open it up for more categories”, Tergat also said.

Contact: Simon K Chebon
Mobile: 0722871152

Past News Headlines

Paul Tergats Remarks on SOYA Awards 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen

May I take the earliest opportunity to welcome you all to the 7th edition of the Safaricom sports personality of the year awards, SOYA.

When I look back to the first time this idea was mooted and see how glamorous and exciting it is tonight, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction and gratitude to every last one of the team and supporters who have made this dream live on.

May I extend a very special welcome to our celebrity guest and football legend, Taribo West for accepting to share this auspicious gala night today courtesy of Dstv’s Super Sports brand.

Truly, the mix of all of the sports stars and legends here this evening is so rich no other gathering can boast of such an assembly and I would like to thank them because they are the reason for our being here.

Distinguished guests,

The SOYA awards objective has been and will remain to recognize and honour our sports men and women for their outstanding service to this country each year through sports. No one can deny them the right to claim to be the true, authentic ambassadors of Kenya.

Recently in Delhi India during the Commonwealth Games, just like in many others such forums, our national anthem was played so many times, sometimes back-to-back, so much so that thousands of fans in the stadium were actually singing along the anthem very well. Let us all give it to our athletes from all sports tonight and I propose that we give them a standing ovation! Thank you.

Of course, as SOYA seeks to honour all those who perform very well, it is also its intention that every sports discipline becomes not only active but conquers the best in the world. I would like to see a major revival of fairly dormant or non-performing sports disciplines. I know we have tremendous talent amongst our youth as attested by the high level of competition by our school games.

What is required is for each federation to take serious stock of its position and mandate and clearly define, more so justify its reason for existence. It is time we signed performance contracts with our people so that we can be held accountable against those benchmarks.

While the Government has endeavoured to lead from the front, this has been insufficient because the policy framework to guide our sports is not in place. I would wish to request the Minister for Sports, who is here with us and our legislators to conclude this matter as a matter of urgency. I expect full support and enrichment of that Sports Bill once it is tabled in Parliament so that we can take this special resource of sports to a new level.

Ladies and gentlemen

Allow me to extend special thank you to Safaricom Ltd for its continued sponsorship of this awards since inception. It takes great faith and confidence to run with an event for that long and this show the premium the firm places in our sports development. I know many other corporate organizations have invested equally substantially in many sports related initiatives and I commend them.

This year, I wish to thank other soya co-sponsors. Many are able to watch the awards live tonight courtesy of the KTN of the Standard Group. The National bank of Kenya, , Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), the Coca Cola East Africa as our official beverage sponsor through its dasani brand, National Social Security Fund, NSSF are all with us  alongside Deacons Kenya Ltd which has sponsored the beautiful trophies to be presented shortly.

Huawei Technologies, NHIF and Super Sport  have all part of the sponsors which has made this gala to be this wonderful. The Minsitry of Sports is always a significant partner in these awards and I thank them for all the support and goodwill they have given us. I know the SOYA awards have grown to be a national event, which brings together all disciplines just like the Ministry is the mother of all.

Thank you Sarova Stanley Hotel, Nairobi Bottlers and Wines of the World for your invaluable support. We thank  KICC for always hosting us here. The media has always been very strong supporters of these awards and I thank them.

I wish us all a pleasant gala.

Paul Tergat

Paul Tergats Remarks on SOYA Awards 2010
Past News Headlines

2010 Safaricom Soya awards gala
The 2010 Safaricom Soya awards gala on the 10th December, 2010 was once again a resounding success.

The annual awards was but full of glamour and glitz as Kenya’s finest sports icons of the year gathered at KICC’s Tsavo Room led by the Kenya’s Vice-President, Hon Kalonzo Musyoka and Sports Minister, Dr Paul Otuoma.

Nigeria’s all-time best defender and former footballer, Taribo West completed the stellar guest list as the event’s 7th edition celebrity guest.
However, the night was dampened by the absence of its founder and Chairman, athletics legend, Paul Tergat who was recuperating at the Aga Khan hospital from a near-fatal road accident on his way to receive an honorary doctoral degree from the Moi University on the eve of the awards.

Speaker after speaker paid glowing tribute to Dr Tergat for his insight seven years ago in starting the prestigious awards to recognize and reward our country’s foremost ambassadors through sports.

Meanwhile, the stars of the night remained the winners of the various categories, with the coveted sportsman and sportswoman of the year going to IAAF Athlete of the year and 800M world record holder, David Rudisha and 1500M Queen, Nancy Jebet Lagat respectively. The two were exemplary in the year in their specialty, dominating all the major national, continental and international championships.

David Rudisha was, particularly, in a class of his own, having broken the 800M world-record twice in a span of a week, bringing to an abrupt end the 13-year reign of Denmark’s Wilson Kipketer world record. His naming by the IAAF as the athlete of the year, the first person ever in Kenya and youngest in the awards history capped an eventful and colourful accolades of the athlete, in which the soya win was the icing on the cake.

The awards was hosted successfully, thanks to the title sponsor, Safaricom Ltd and the other co-sponsors, National Bank Ltd, Coca Cola East and Central Africa Ltd, the NSSF, CCK, Deacons Kenya Ltd, NHIF and Huawei Technologies . The Sarova Stanley Hotel, Nairobi Bottlers, Wines of the World and KICC deserve our commendation for their huge support of the SOYA 2010 awards gala.
2010 Safaricom Soya awards gala
Past News Headlines

The SOYA awards launch 2010 . see the pictorials next.

Safaricom Sports Person of the Year Awards (SOYA) Founder Paul Tergat
(centre) and
the SOYA panel of judges Chairman Chris Mbaisi  (left) receive
sponsorship cheque
worth Kshs 7 million from Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph to support the
event, which
will be held on 10th December 2010.
Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph (second right) presents a sponsorship
cheque worth Kshs
7 million to the Safaricom Sports Person of the Year Awards (SOYA) Founder Paul
Tergat (second left), SOYA panel of judges Chairman Chris Mbaisi
(left) and legend
athlete Joshua Chelang’a (right) for this year’s SOYA event, which
will be held on

10th December 2010.

In-coming Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore (left) share a light moment with athletics
legend and former world marathon record holder Paul Tergat during the
launch of this
year’s Safaricom Sports Person of the Year Awards (SOYA) where
Safaricom announced a
Sh 7 million to support the event which will be held on 10th December 2010.
The SOYA awards launch 2010 .  see the pictorials next.
Past News Headlines

Seven-year Relationship Cemented with Sh7 million Cheque

Tuesday, September 8, 2010...This year’s edition of the Safaricom Sportsperson of the Year Awards (SOYA) awards was launched today, with the listed telecoms operator committing Sh7 million worth of support to the event.

The country’s premier sports fete, in its seventh year since inception by athletics legend and former world marathon record holder Paul Tergat, was launched at Safaricom House during a function presided over by Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph.

Speaking during the launch, Mr Tergat noted that the level of most sporting disciplines in Kenya had improved since the start of the Safaricom SOYA Awards, with some sportsmen and women, who were earlier recognized as promising talent, maturing into international champions of repute, bringing immense honour to the country.

“Safaricom SOYA Awards have in a major and positive way made tremendous contribution to the development of sports in Kenya. The benefits from success in sports for us as a country cannot be over-emphasised and any investment in sports, especially accompanied with proper management, guarantees enduring returns”, Mr Tergat said. He pointed out the role sports had played in building national cohesion, restoration of national pride and marketing Kenya internationally and generating positive publicity for the country.

Echoing Mr Tergat’s remarks during the launch, Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph said: “Kenya today prides itself in producing respected sports heroes and heroines who are celebrated the world over. Safaricom, being a Kenyan company, is sharing in this same spirit by supporting and celebrating Kenyan talent through this event, which is, clearly, the Oscars of the local sports scene and a major fixture on the Kenyan sporting calendar.”

Safaricom is supporting the Safaricom SOYA Awards for the seventh year running, further underpinning the firm’s expansive footprint in sports sponsorship in Kenya. Safaricom runs an expansive sports portfolio that includes Safaricom Marathon in Lewa; the Safaricom Sevens and Sakata Ball, The Safaricom Challenge, plus a slew of other sports activities, including road races, in all parts of Kenya.

“For Safaricom, sport is a key part of our connection and communication with the Kenyan market. The Safaricom SOYA Awards is our way of thanking and congratulating Kenya’s sporting fraternity for bringing honour to this great country and motivating the next generation of champions,” Mr Joseph added.

The SOYA founder paid tribute to Safaricom for its outstanding contribution to the development of sports in Kenya and singled out soya as one such success story of their investment. Mr Tergat, however, regretted that despite the critical role sport plays, this was yet to be fully embraced and appreciated.

He therefore challenged the authorities and other sports stakeholders to initiate the necessary initiatives to rectify this state of affairs. He singled out the long-overdue sports policy and asked that the same be tabled and passed in Parliament for the necessary legislation and implementation. He hoped that the new Sports Minister Paul Otuoma would seize the moment and goodwill to actualize this.

Regarding the 2010 Safaricom SOYA Awards, the founder promised another colourful gala ceremony befitting Kenya’s sports heroes and heroines. The date of the awards in December will be announced soon and the public is invited to fully participate in the nomination process.

Forms are available online through soya website, or through email address
This year’s edition of the Safaricom Sportsperson of the Year Awards (SOYA) awards was launched toda
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Selection Creteria

  1. Based on performance between January-December 10th, 2009

  2. Outstanding performance in own area of sports discipline

  3. Excellent performance locally, internationally or both

  4. Consistency in performance

  5. Emerging/Promising talent

  6. Outstanding discipline and integrity (role model)

  7. Team spirit

  8. Cohesiveness

  9. Citizen of Kenya

  10. Sports development initiatives undertaken (Federations and Community Hero category)

  11. Financial Management (Federations)

Selection Creteria
Past News Headlines


THREE top Kenyan boxers want the Kenya Professional Boxing Commission and Amateur Boxing Association (ABA) to lift the game’s standards in the country to ensure pugilists are recognised and nominated for the Safaricom's Sports Personality of the Year Awards (SOYA).
The three boxers — Congestina Achieng, David Kiilu and Raymond Ochieng — think part of the reason why they are not considered for the sports gala is because of the dwindling boxing standards in the country.

They said poor management and lack of foresight had contributed immensely to the poor results in their spheres.

Congestina, who was a beneficiary of SOYA awards in 2005 when she finished runner-up to the marathon queen Catherine Ndereba, said the awards had grown in stature and everyone would like to be part of them.

“These awards symbolize sports excellence in the country and when your fraternity is not being mentioned then you have a reason to really scratch your head and re-focus,” she said.
Congestina, a former women’s International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion fought early this year in Germany but failed to impress amid murmurs of bias officiating.

Lately, Congestina has opted for non-title fights for the sake of survival. She said getting title fights is not easy as most promoters are not honest when it comes to negotiating purses.
David Kiilu who early this year won the World Boxing Commission (WBC) bantamweight title in Poland has been unable to defend the title due to lack of promoters. He said things need to be straightened up in the spheres if they are to share in national limelight.

Achieng said she didn’t know what was happening and the boxing fraternity was being run ad hoc. “We need to re-organise ourselves if we are to measure up to other sports.  It is a pity that boxers have been reduced to mere paupers. “With good organisation, I believe we have the talent and can go places just like other boxing super powers,” she noted.

Suleiman Bilali, who was one of the country’s top amateur boxers in the country, is the latest to join the paid ranks but he is yet to make an impact. He lost his debut fight to George Owenge and has since kept a low profile. ABA leaders have admitted that there is need to revamp boxing in the country if is to regain its lost glory.

The Soya Gala night is due to be held on December 11 at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.

Past News Headlines

NBK supports Soya Awards

National Bank of Kenya became the first financial institution to partner Soya this year when they announced a Shs one million sponsorship.
The sponsorship was confirmed at a Press Conference by Isaih Mworia, the bank’s executive director – Finance.
Speaking at the function, SOYA founder and chairman, Paul Tergat said:

I would like to thank the National Bank of Kenya for their sponsorship support announcement for the awards.

National Bank becomes the first Bank and financial institution to become a co-sponsor for this awards and I truly feel proud of them. The Bank has demonstrated through its various support programmes for sports this year that it cares about our youth and their contribution to our national development.

We have already begun to witness the fruits of NBK’s investment in the junior athletics team that represented the country recently in Italy and returned with splendid results.
SOYA provides the crowning moment for NBK’s investment and I thank you for not declining my request for support to host this gala alongside our title sponsor and partner for long, Safaricom Ltd.

NBK supports Soya Awards
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Safaricom title sponsors once again

Mobile phone service provider Safaricom is sponsoring the annual Soya awards for the sixth year running.
This year’s sponsorship of Shs. 7 million was confirmed by Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph at a launch function held at Safaricom House. They are the event’s title sponsors.“Soya Awards have always been a noble idea and it is my pleasure to confirm our support once again,” said Joseph at the function also attended by national volleyball coach David Lung’ahu, captain Praxides Agalla and player Jane Wacu.

“I wish to thank Paul (Tergat) and his team for always working hard to come up with a great function,” added Joseph.

Tergat thanked Safaricom for always being there for Soya and appealed to other corporate firms to help bridge the Shs. 5 million deficits.

During this launch, the panel of judges was also launched. It is headed by Bismack Mutahi (Standard) while the secretary is Simon Chebon from FineTouch Communications, who organize this event.

Members are Finny Muyeshi (The Athelete), Chris Mbaisi (The Star), Elias Makori (Nation), Evelyn Watta (AIPS), Robert Soi (KTN), Torome Tirike (Citizen TV), Alloys Muganda (The People), Elynah Shivekah (KBC), James Wokabi (Capital FM), and Nelly Githaka (Safaricom).

Safaricom title sponsors once again
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SOYA SMS service launched

Members of the public can participate in the SOYA Awards nominations by sending by sending an SMS to 5556, Soya chairman, Paul Tergat has announced.


I am sure many of us will take advantage and send your favourite sports person, team and federation to this number.
It is only the other day when we formerly launched the nomination process for the 2009 SOYA awards and I am glad to note that there has been a very encouraging response from the public by way of nominations received so far.
We would like to encourage every Kenyan to be part of this process so that no deserving person at the furthest corner of this country is left out. I know that there are people deep in the villages or secluded parts of our country that are making huge contributions to the advancement of sports in the community.

These are the people we would like to hear and nominate them for community category so as to motivate worthy sports initiatives that are abundant in this country.

Our very able panel of judges, who are themselves journalists, should be able to go deeper and obtain the profiles of these Kenyans so as to get the most deserving to be awarded during the gala night in December.

SOYA SMS service launched
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Regional champions fight for Soya honours

East African and National Secondary Schools basketball champions, Laiser Hill and Shimba Hills are among the 18 schools nominated for the Soya Awards schools category.
Laiser Hill beat 75-65 in the East African final in Fort Portal to extend Kenya’s region the throne. Laiser Hill won national championships in Kanguru, Embu.
Shimba Hills defeated compatriots Lang'ata 30-27 in the final to become the second team after Mombasa High to lift the girls’ trophy.
Both Shimba Hills and Lang’ata were making their debut at the regional event. Soya organisers also nominated East African girls’ handball champions, Mukumu and national queens Maraba to the list of schools to contest for the honours in the newly introduced category. Both Mukumu and Maraba came out of the blues to reign supremacy at both national and regional games. Mukumu handball team was the first from the school to play at the national championships since their volleyball side won in 2005.
The event organiser, Paul Tergat said he has been following the schools event and is very impressed. He said he is happy that the schools that have won Soya awards had continued to maintain top standards.

Full list of nominees:


Cheptil volleyball team (2nd at EA and national)

Lang’ata football team (4th EA and national champs)

Laiser Hill basketball team (EA and national champs)

Kakamega 15s rugby (EA and national champs)

Malezi College lawn tennis team (National champs since 2004)

Malava volleyball team (Form ones and twos outfit winning nationals and qualifying for EA. Lost at preliminaries)'

Kamusinga boys’ hockey team (Winners EA and 2nd nationally)

Kisumu Day (2nd EA Games)


Shimba Hills basketball team (EA and National champs)

Cheptil volleyball team (2nd EA and 3rd nationally)

Lugulu volleyball team (Won EA and nationals)

Lwak hockey team (2nd EA and national champs)

St Cecilia Misikhu (EA queens and 2nd nationally)

Mukumu handball team (EA champs and 2nd nationally)

Maraba (2nd EA and national champs)

Malezi College lawn tennis team (national champs since 2004)

Regional champions fight for Soya honours
Past News Headlines

High riding Sevens side eye World Cup

The Kenya seven-a-side rugby team is back home from the USA after competing in the fourth tournament of the International Rugby Board Sevens Series.

Kenya lost 7-22 to New Zealand in the Plate final after coming from behind to beat Samoa 17-12 in the semi-finals. With the targeted 18 points in the bag, Kenya is now placed sixth in the IRB Sevens World Series rankings with 24 points.

England and South Africa tie at top with 60 points each, New Zealand has 52, Argentina 48 and Fiji 32.

The Kenyans traveled to the USA fresh from being named the Kenya Sports Team (men) of The Year 2008 during the annual Sports Personality of the Year (SOYA) Gala. With their performance, they have taken a major stride towards retaining that honour.

Attention now switches to the fifth Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai and the
team has just a week to prepare for the 24-team tournament which kicks off
on March 5. Such is the urgency for the team to do well that the Kenya Rugby Football Union chairman Richard Omwela has launched a funds drive on a local radio station to garner support for the team.

Omwela appealed to the rugby fraternity to donate a minimum of Sh20,000 towards the cause.

Three Kenyan players are among the top scorers as the eight-leg tournament
reached the half-way stage in the USA.

Collins Injera and Australia’s Luke Morahan have each scored 18 tries to lead the standings. Mwamba forward Victor Oduor who scored two tries against New Zealand in a historic 24-7 win on Saturday has 10 tries.

Lavin Asego is fourth among the top point’s scorers. He has 91 points in a list led by New Zealand’s Tomasi Cama 115, Richard Kingi (Australia) 109 and Peni Rokodiva (Fiji) 96.

Injera is not far behind with 90 points, one ahead of England’s Benjamin Gollings, the IRB Sevens World Series top points scorer on 1,871.

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Jelimo and Wanjiru crowned

Olympic 800m champion Pamela Jelimo, has added another crown to her glittering career.

The youngster was named the 2008 Sports Personality of the Year (Soya) after a splendid 2008 that saw her become the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

The youngster from Kiptamok Village, Nandi District had little challenge in winning the Soya prize with her close challengers being 1,500m Olympic champion Nancy Jebet Lagat and 3,000m steeplechase bronze medallist Eunice Jepkorir.

Lagat managed second position while Jepkorir was contended with third position.

While Jelimo was a clear winner in the women category, there was stiff competition in the male award what with Olympic champions Samuel Wanjiru, Wilfred Bungei and Brimin Kipruto all in contention.

As if that was not enough, the 2007 Soya winner Jason Dunford was also in contention after an impressive run at the Olympic Games in Beijing last year where he set an Olympic record that stood for less than ten minutes.

After voting it was, however, Wanjiru who got the nod from the Soya panellists to join Jelimo in the role of honour the 2008 Soya male winner.

Bungei, who was also the Beijing Games overall team captain, was voted the runner-up while Dunford was the second runner-up.

Apart from being a Soya winner Jelimo was also shortlisted for the 2008 IAAF Athlete of the Year women’s category award alongside Russian multiple world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva.

She, however, did not win the award but didn’t come back home empty handed from Monaco as she was awarded the Revelation of the Year Award.

Apart from winning the Olympic gold in Beijing last year, Jelimo had announced her arrival to the scene with victory at the Africa Athletics Championships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Then aged, 18, she ran one minute 58.70 seconds, a new national record beating former world and Olympic champions Maria Mutola of Mozambique in the process.

On 25 May she won 800m at the Hengelo Grand Prix event and set a new world junior record of 1:55.76.

The previous record (1:57.18) was set by Yuan Wang of China in 1993.

Jelimo’s time in Hengelo was also a new Kenyan record, previously held by Janeth Jepkosgei (1:56.04 in 2007).

golden league

On June 1 Jelimo ran an impressive 800m race in Berlin and won the ISTAF Golden League in 1:54.99, a new African record.

The previous African record (1:55.19) was set by Mutola in 1994.

On July 18 she bettered the record slightly to 1:54.97 in Paris. It was also her fourth consecutive win in _F Golden League, where she was one of only two remaining jackpot contenders, the other being high jumper Blanka Vlaši of Croatia.

On August 18 she won gold at the Beijing Olympics in 1:54.87 to also become the first Kenyan women to win an Olympic title.

She continued her unbeaten streak by winning the Weltklasse Golden League meeting in Zurich on August 29 improving her personal best to 1:54.01.

World record

This was the third fastest performance ever, behind Nadezhda Olizarenko and the world record of Jarmila KratochvÌlov•.

At the Memorial van Damme competition in Brussels, the IAAF Golden League final, Jelimo won with a time of 1:55.16.

As the only athlete to win the same event at all six Golden League meetings, she won the competition’s jackpot of $1,000,000. (then about Sh70m).

She crowned her unbeaten season by winning her race at the 2008 IAAF World Athletics Final. After the event she returned to Kenya for the first time since the Olympic trials and was welcomed by major festivities. On 18 September 2008 in Kapsabet Town, a street — Pamela Jelimo Street— was named in her honour after a homecoming party attended by the who is who in the society.

On his part Wanjiru managed to beat Bungei and Dunford for the male prize after not only winning the Olympic gold but also breaking the games record that had stood for over 20 years after clocking 2:06.32 smashing the previous record of 2:09:21 set by Carlos Lopes of Portugal in the 1984 Olympics.

Apart from the glory at the Olympics, Wanjiru had also finished second at the London marathon in April behind countryman Martin Lel and also broke the 2:06 barrier.

The Soya ceremony, the third in a row was attended by a star guest list that included vice president Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, Sports Minister Hellen Sambili, former vice president Moody Awori and Soya founder, Paul Tergat.

Bismack Mutai (Standard)

Jelimo and Wanjiru crowned
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