SOYA: Olunga, Jepchirchir crowned Most Valuable athletes at gala

SOYA: Olunga, Jepchirchir crowned Most Valuable athletes at gala

Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga and half marathon world record holder Peres Jepchirchir are the winners of the 2020 Outstanding Sports Personality of the Year Awards (SOYA).

At the 17th edition of the SOYA gala held Saturday in Naivasha, Olunga bagged the men’s gong after beating reigning half marathon record holder Kibiwott Kandie and ‘Hit Squad’ captain Nick Okoth.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Olunga had an impressive 2019 becoming the Japanese League top scorer and also the Most Valuable Player (MVP) when he plied his trade for Kashiwa Reysol.

The towering striker has since moved to his current club Al-Duhail of Qatar at the start of the year.

On her part, Jepchirchir smashed the women’s half marathon record when she clocked 1:05:16 at the World Half Marathon in Gydnia, Poland.

“I really thank God for this award. It was a tough year but through God I managed to achieve a lot of success. I also pray to God for a much successful 2021,” said a delighted Jepchirchir.

She also won the Prague Half Marathon and Valencia Half Marathon titles before the close of the year.

The event was preceded by a symposium that was held earlier in the day as athletes were taken through various topics affecting their careers.

Former Olympic champion Wilfred Bungei talked on how to manage success where he shared his experience while battling alcoholism as he struggled on his post-retirement reality.

On her part, the 2007 World Cross Country Champion Lornah Kiplagat urged sportspeople to invest wisely during their heydays.

“You can run well but if you don’t know how to invest then all your effort will go to waste. You can always seek for advice but remember to make your own decisions,” said Kiplagat.

Other topics athletes undertook include doping, branding, sports and mental health and athlete-media relations.

Harambee Stars head coach Jacob Mulee who attended the dinner gala urged athletes not to lose hope amidst the pandemic.

“It was not easy staying out of the sport for more than nine months. But I take encouragement that nothing lasts forever and we will return to normalcy soon,” said Mulee

The event was graced by the outgoing Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Sports Hassan Noor who  represented Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed.

Also present were Nakuru County Deputy Governor Eric Korir and Athletics Kenya President Jackson Tuwei among other guests.


Hall of Fame

1 Ben Jipcho

2 Rose Naliaka

Community Hero

Shadrack Wambui (Boxing)

Corporate Social Responsibility

Videliz Njoki

Innovation Category

– Dominic Ndingiti (athletics) -Making jikos

Resilience Sportsman with Disability

Henry Wanyoike (Paralympics)

Resilience Personality (men)

Daniel Komen (athletics)

2020 Outstanding Woman living with  Disability

Nancy Chelangat (Paralympics)

2020 Outstanding Sportsman living with Disability

Onesmus Munyao (Paralympics)

2020 Outstanding Sportswoman of the Year

– Peres Jepchirchir (Athletics)

2020 Outstanding Sportsman of the Year

-Michael Olunga (football)