Kapsait High school’s Edwin Zakayo leads other youngsters in contention for this year’s SOYA awards

World Under-20 champion Edward Zakayo
World Under-20 champion Edward Zakayo

Via @SOYAAwards

World Under-20 champion Edward Zakayo and Harambee Starlets forward Teresa Engesha headline a deep field of boys’ and girls’ nominated for the Most Promising 2018 Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year (SOYA) Awards to be hosted in Mombasa on January 11

The awards, co-sponsored by Mombasa County, National Social Security Fund (NSSF), Communication Authority (CA), Kenya Pipeline, GOTv, LapFund, New KCC, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Kenya Power, Sports Station and Protel Studios, will be held at Fort Jesus.


In the boys category, Zakayo will battle it out with judoka Carlos Ochieng, world Under-20 champion in 10,000m Rhonex Kipruto, Sofapaka and Harambee Stars forward Piston Mutamba as well as athlete Jackson Kavesa.

Zakayo had a sparkling year that also saw the 17-year-old win the Kenyan 5000m Under-20 trials before going on to claim bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, losing the battle to defending champion Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei.

After winning the Kenyan trials, the World Under-18, World 3000m silver medallist would go on to claim sweet revenge against Ethiopian Selemon Barega, snatching the World Under-20 title in 5000m from the Ethiopian in Tampere, Finland.

The Form Two student at Kapsait High school would then go on to win the Africa 5000m title in Asaba, Nigeria, beating experienced Getaneh Molla from Ethiopia and Eritrean Yemane Haileselassie. That saw him qualify for the World Cup also known as IAAF Continental Cup where he finished fifth.

Ochieng on the other hand is the Kenyan Champion in junior and senior under 60kgs in judo. Due to his prowess and discipline in Judo sport he was given scholarship by Japan and benefitted from an International training in Kodokan university of Judo in Tokyo city.

He represented Kenya in world judo championship in Budapest Hungary and finished 7th in the world and looks forward to Olympics 2020 in Tokyo.

For Rhonex Kipruto, the 19 -year-old won the Africa Cross Country Under-20 men’s title in Chlef, Algeria in March, exerting revenge against Stanley Waithaka, who had beaten them at the Kenya Championships.

Kipruto won the 10,000m race during the Kenyan trials on his way to winning the World Under-20 10,000m title in a Championship Record time of 27:21.08 in Tampere, Finland.

On September 8 in Czech, Kipruto affirmed his status as one of world’s most promising distance runners when he won the Prague Grand Prix 10km race in a course record time of 26:46, missing compatriot Leonard Patrick Komon’s World Record time of 26:44.The time is still the fastest in 10km Road Race this year.

Mutamba on the other hand, scored eight goals for Kenyan Premier League side Sofapaka, a club that he joined in mid-season from Wazito FC on his KPL debut. Having netted one goal, Mutamba helped Sofapaka reach final of FKF Shield where they lost to Kariobangi Sharks.

Mutamba was part of the Harambee Stars Under-23 team that played in Uzbekistan friendly where he scored one goal and provided an assist as Kenya won 2-1.

Due to his impressing performance, he was called up in all Senior Harambee Stars squad under head coach Sebastian Migne, playing in seven matches while scoring one goal in the 1-0 winner against Malawi in a friendly match.

For Kavesa, he claimed bronze in 3,000m at the Africa Youth Championships losing the battle to Berihu Aregawi of Ethiopia who won in a time of 7:50.98 and Ugandan Oscar Chelimo who came second in 8:00.72. However, he would claim sweet revenge at the Youth Olympics.

Despite finishing third in boys’ 3,000m final, Kavesa went on to win boys cross country 4km race that gave him the gold medal with 11.12 points, beating Aregawi (11.13) and Chelimo (11.28).


In the corresponding girls’ category Engesha, who had a three-month professional stint with Swedish Division 2 club Dalhem that is under the tutelage of former Harabee Stars midfielder Robert Mambo, helped FKF Women’s Premier League side Vihiga Queens successfully defend the title.

Engesha played in all Senior team (Harambee Starlets) Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWOCON) Qualifiers, scored in Kenya’s 2-1 first leg victory over Equatorial Guinea in Machakos. In the 2018 CECAFA, she scored one goal.

She will face stiff challenge from Beatrice Chebet, Angela Okutoyi, Edinah Jebitok and Brunlehner Maria.

Chebet won the world under-20 title in Tempere, Finland in personal best 15:30.77, beating Ethiopians Ejgayehu Taye (15:30.87 PB) and Girmawit Gebrzihair (15:34.01 PB).

Okutoyi on her part, won the ITF under -18 tournament in Burundi which saw her join the ITF World Tour team that enabled her tour France German, Belgium and Czech Republic for five weeks between July and August

Straight from the tour, Okutoyi went on to win the ITF/CAT Africa under -14 championships title in Algiers in August, beating home favorite Algerian Bouchra  Mebarki 4-6,6-0,6-1 to clinch the title.

Okutoyi would stand top seeded Shufaa Changawa, the 2011, 2014 and 2016 champion who won this year’s championship at Nairobi club.

Okutoyi becomes the youngest player to lift the title after the 14year old Wanjiku Ngaruiya in 2004.

Okutoyi would make history as the first Kenya to reach the final of the Africa cup on Nations that ended in November in Botswana. She lost in straight sets to top seeded Bechri Chiraz from Tunisia 6-1,6-3 to settle for Silver

The performance has seen her earn a fully sponsored tour by the International Tennis Federation Grand Slam Development Fund in Florida in December.

Swimmer Brunlehner Maria, who is based in Germany also made the cut, having struck two gold medals and a silver in swimming to hand Kenya its first medal at Africa Youth Games held July in Algiers, Algeria.

The 18-year-old, who represented Kenya at Gold coast Commonwealth Games, won girls 100m and 50m freestyle respectively adding up to her silver in 50m breaststroke.

Brunlehner had clocked 58.87 seconds to claim gold in the 100m freestyle, a victory that warmed her up for the 50m freestyle feet where she broke the champion record with new times of 26.14 in 50m freestyle.

Brunlehner had earlier romped home second to settle for silver in the 50m breaststroke fray in 34.04 seconds to lose the battle to Moroccan Imane Houda EL Barodi who taped the wall in 33.03.

She was named the StarTimes Sports Personality of July. The final nominee to make the shortlist is world U18 bronze medallist in 1500m Edinah Jebitok who won finished fifth at the world under-20 IAAF Championships in Tampere, Finland.

She would then settle for silver in 1500m at Africa Youth but went on to win gold in 1500m at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


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