Kenya Sevens star William “Lomu” Ambaka and Harambee Stars keeper Peter Matasi will battle three athletics celebrities for the Sportsmen of the Year accolades during the 2018 Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Award (Soya).
Matasi will be eying to become among the few sportsmen from other disciplines
other than athletics to win the coveted during the Soya Gala planned for Friday
at the iconic Fort Jesus, Mombasa.
Some of the other the
sportsmen to have won the gong away from athletics are swimmer Jason Dunford
(2007) and another Kenya Sevens rugby star Collins Injera (2009).
But whether the duo
will floor World marathon record –breaking EliudKipchoge and compatriots
Commonwealth and Africa champions Elijah Manangoi (1,500m) and ConseslusKipruto
(3,000m steeplechase) is left to be known.
Ambaka was Kenya’s top
try scorer this season with 31 tries from 155 points in 54 matches, feat that
guided Shujaa to break the half-a-century-mark for the first time for 104
points. That saw Shujaa finish eighth in the 2017/2018 World Rugby Sevens
Ambaka made his first
Cap for the Kenya 15 rugby team, the Simbas this season, when he was named in
Africa Gold Cup/ World Cup Qualifier squad to face Tunisia and he scored a
brace as the Simbas mauled Tunisia 67-0 at RFUEA Grounds.
Ambaka also scored two
tries despite Kenya Simbas going down 53-28 loss in the Africa Gold Cup decider. He also feature for Kenya Simbas at the other World
Cup qualifier at Repechage in France.
Matasi kept a clean
sheet against Ethiopia in Africa Cup of Nations qualifier which helped Kenya
book their ticket to this year’s Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in 15
In the Kenyan Premier
League, playing for Posta Rangers before moving to Tusker in mid-season, he kept
clean run in 29 matches and saved three penalties.
attracted the eyes of scouts, signing a three-year deal with Ethiopian top tier
side St. Georges.
Kipchoge, who is the
Olympic Marathon champion, started the year strongly with victory at London
Marathon in 2 hours, 04 minutes and 17 seconds on April 22, which was the 15th
fastest time over the distance, having won at the same course in 2015 in
2:04:42 and 2016 in 2:03:05, missing the world record by eight seconds.
Then Kipchoge went for
Berlin Marathon victory with a World Record feat of 2:01:39 in September 16 the
Germany Capital City. He downed the previous record by one minute and 18
seconds, setting news time
On his way to the WR
and his third Berlin Marathon title, Kipchoge also broke the 30km World Record
setting new times of 1:26:45.
second at the Kent an trials, Manangoi, the World 1,500m champion, went on to
win his maiden Commonwealth Games title in Gold Coast, Australia, clocking
3:34.78 on April 14.
Manangoi followed it
up with his first African title clocking a Championship Record time of 3:35.20
in Asaba, Nigeria on August 5. Manangoi would end his season in style, winning
his maiden World Cup also known as the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava, Czech
on September 9.
Kipruto has been on a roller-coaster since winning the Olympic 3,000m
steeplechase title in Rio in 2016 and World title in 2017 London. Kiprutp won
Commonwealth Games gold in Gold Coast before going for the Africa title in Asaba,
Kipruto then retained
his Diamond League for his third trophy in style, clocking 8:10.15 while
running with one shoe in Zurich on August 30. Kipruto has also won in Rome and
Kipruto would finish
the season in style, winning his first World Cup (IAAF Continental Cup) in
Czech in 8:22.55 on September 8.