It was a picturesque moment as the crème de la crème of Kenya’s world best sportsmen and women converged at the Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Awards (Soya) ceremony in Nairobi on Wednesday night.
The annual fete, which entered its 14th anniversary, lived up to its expectations.
And it did not disappoint as the occasion to honour sports stars –drawn from all sports disciplines –produced a surprise overall winner in Paralympic maestro Samwel Muchai at a glittering ceremony at Kenyatta International Convention Centre.
The superstars lit up Nairobi’s signature storey building in the presence of Deputy President William Ruto and former Harambee Stars striker Mike Okoth, who was the celebrity guest.
An eloquent Muchai borrowed a famous quote from former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill – ‘Never give up’ – to dispel claims that persons with disability cannot outshine other persons in sports.-
“I thank the Almighty God for this award. We have God-given talents. We train and compete together regardless of our backgrounds and let’s continue this spirit and, as Kenyans, let’s live together as brothers and sisters. I thank my guide James Boit,” he said.
Obiri, the world 5,000m champion, said: “I feel delighted for the win. I put in a lot of hard work in the last season and hope to extend it this year. I thank my competitors as we all know that there is one winner in a contest.”
The DP announced that five stadiums would be completed by April while four others will be ready by June.
“We will complete one we started from the scratch and others like Nyayo Stadium are being refurbished. Marsabit will have an IAAF-compliant stadium. Others are in Nyeri, Makueni, Eldoret and Kamariny, Iten, ” he said.
He said the Government said committed Sh4.2 billion and was working with county governments to ensure the stadiums would be ready on time.
“We want to have a competitive advantage against our opponents. Sports have no doubt remained bridges of our brotherhood,” said Ruto.
“The Government will offer Sh500 million to fill gaps arising from withdrawal of some sponsors,” he said.
Paul Tergat, the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) President and founder of the Soya awards, promised to live up to the night’s theme ‘passing the baton’ as he leads the Olympic body.
“We have assumed office and the wrangles in Nock are now a thing of the past. The former administration passed the baton to us,” he said.
Others present were Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario, Principal Secretaries Kirimi Kaberia (Sports), Chris Kiptoo (Trade) and a host of corporate sponsors.