Soyas 2018: Kipchoge, Matasi, Ambaka To Battle For Sportsman Award

Jan 07 - by SPN Correspondent for SportPesa News

Distance running stars Kipruto, Manangoi round off the final five nominees for the top prize in Friday's gala in Mombasa

World marathon record holder, Eliud Kipchoge (middle) poses with Tottenham Hotspur FC stars (From L to R) Dele Alli, Victor Wanyama, Serge Aurier and Paulo Gazzaniga when he visited the English Premier League club's training complex in April following his London Marathon victory. PHOTO/File

  • Ambaka and Matasi will be seeking to end the stranglehold of the top accolade by athletes with Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto and world 1500m champion, Elijah Manangoi rounding off the five nominees
  • Kipchoge- also the 2018 UN Person of the Year- stood out for his astonishing 2:01:39 world record in clinching his third Berlin Marathon title in September having won in London in April where he fell only eight seconds shy of the previous 2:02:57 standard
  • Kipruto retained his Diamond League crown for his third trophy in style, clocking 8:10.15 while running with one shoe in Zurich on August 30 after winning the Rome and Birmingham legs of the elite circuit competition

NAIROBI, Kenya- Kenya Sevens star William ‘Lomu’ Ambaka and Harambee Stars keeper Patrick Matasi made the final shortlist of the sought-after Sportsman of the Year category of the 2018 Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Awards (Soyas) headlined by world marathon record holder, Eliud Kipchoge.

Ambaka and Matasi will be seeking to end the stranglehold of the top accolade by athletes with Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto and world 1500m champion, Elijah Manangoi rounding off the five nominees.

Shujaa legend, Collins Injera and Delhi 2010 Commonwealth gold winning swimmer, Jason Dunford are the only non-athletes to have won the glittering award in the 15 year history of the SOYAS.

The SOYA gala will be held at the monumental Fort Jesus fortress in the coastal city of Mombasa on Friday with Kipchoge, who was named the IAAF World Male Athlete of the Year on December 4 in Monaco ranking as a rank favourite.

Kipchoge- also the 2018 UN Person of the Year- stood out for his astonishing 2:01:39 world record in clinching his third Berlin Marathon title in September having won in London in April where he fell only eight seconds shy of the previous 2:02:57 standard.

Kipruto added the Commonwealth and IAAF Diamond League titles to his 2016 Olympics and 2017 IAAF World Championships crown with Manangoi striking gold at Gold Coast Club Games and Asaba African Athletics Championships in that order.

Ambaka was Kenya’s top try scorer last season after grounding 31 five-pointers 54 matches in the 2017/18 HSBC World Sevens Series.

Maiden cap

His performances inspired Kenya to smash the 100 series-points barrier for the first time in the circuit where they finished eighth on 104.

Ambaka also earned his maiden cap for Kenya 15s Simbas, when he was named in Africa Gold Cup/ World Cup Qualifier squad to face Tunisia where he repaid the faith by scoring a brace when the team mauled Tunisia 67-0 at RFUEA Grounds in Nairobi.

Despite Simbas going down 28-53 to African champions Namibia in the decider in Windhoek, Ambaka stamped his authority when he grounded a hat trick before going forward to feature for the team at the Repechage in France.

Matasi the hero for Stars when they reclaimed the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup title, excelled by keeping a clean sheet against Ethiopia in a 3-0 victory during their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier which helped Kenya book their ticket the finals for the first time in 15 years.

In the SportPesa Premier League Matasi turned for Posta Rangers FC before moving to Tusker in mid-season where he kept clean run in 29 matches and saved three penalties.

Matasi’s performance attracted the eyes of scouts, signing a three-year deal with Ethiopian top tier side St. Georges.

Despite finishing second at the Kent an trials, Manangoi went on to win his maiden Commonwealth title in Australia, clocking 3:34.78 on April 14.

He 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.

The 23-year-old 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. Kipruto won Commonwealth Games gold in Gold Coast before going for the Africa title in Asaba, Nigeria.

Kipruto retained his Diamond League crown for his third trophy in style, clocking 8:10.15 while running with one shoe in Zurich on August 30 after winning the Rome and Birmingham legs of the elite circuit competition.

The Rio 2016 winner added his first World Cup (IAAF Continental Cup) gold in Czech Republic when he ran 8:22.55 on September 8.