Cheruiyot: If I can do it after 17 years, why not you?

By francis marangu
Jan 19, 2017
  • Vivian Cheruiyot challenged athletes to be disciplined and patient after winning the top SOYA award. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

When Vivian Cheruiyot crossed the line to win her first gold medal in the 5,000m at the Rio Olympic games in August, she might have considered it to be the best moment in her athletics career.

But, little did she know that a lot more lay in wait to add on to her decorated career. Her crowning moment and possibly the best one came on Thursday night.

From a crowded list of top individual performers from 2016 and in different disciplines, she was named the overall Sportsperson of the Year.

She might be small in size but Cheruiyot was the center of attraction at the highlight of the annual Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Awards held at the Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC).

Additionally, she was named the sportswoman of the year beating fellow athletes Faith Chepng’etich to second place and Jemima Sumgong to third.

Cheruiyot won the 5,000m race in a fresh Olympics record of 14:26:17 in addition to setting a new national record after finishing second in 10,000m behind Ethiopian Almaz Ayana.

Her win was Kenya’s first ever Olympics gold medal in the women’s 5, 000m. In her acceptance speech, Cheruiyot was full of joy for claiming the double and put up a thankful tone.

"Am honoured to be the winner today. I thought it would be Eliud (Kipchoge) or me but am happy to have won," she said.

"I have been running for the last 17 years and l want to challenge young athletes; if I can do it after 17 years, why not you? You have to be disciplined because that is the most important thing." She thanked her husband who doubles up as her coach for offering unwavering support.

Olympics marathon gold medalist Eliud Kipchoge scooped the sportsman of the year award. He beat steeplechaser Conseslus Kipruto to second place while 800m record holder David Rudisha and Kenya Sevens star Collins Injera tied in the third place.

Kipchoge hinted at the possibility of going for the world record. "Please pray for me as I embark on the journey of running the marathon in under two hours."

Surprise winner

Tennis Kenya was the surprise winner in the Federations of the Year Category. The federation was feted for among other things hosting the International Tennis Federation High Performance Center as well as development of a National Tennis Facility.

Further, Tennis Kenya played host to nine international events in 2016 that included African Regional Junior Championship, Confederation of African Tennis Executive Committee Meeting and African Nations Cup Championship.

Kenya also participated in seven international competitions like Davis Cup held in Madagascar, African Junior Championship for the under-18's in Egypt and African Junior Championship in the under-14 and 16 in South Africa.

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) came second with the new leadership under president Nick Mwendwa being credited for bringing sanity back to the federation that was a laughing stock of the sports sector in the past.

FKF has facilitated more friendly matches for Harambee Stars that have helped the national team improve in FIFA rankings. It’s also under their watch that Harambee Starlets, the women’s national team qualified for their first appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations in November.

Harambee Starlets also finished second in the inaugural Cecafa Challenge Cup held in Uganda.

Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) came in third.

Most prominsing young player

World Junior 800m champion Bett Kipyegon was feted as the Most Promising Boy, tennis player Ryan Randik came second and 20-year old footballer Joseph Okumu who plays for South Africa’s Premier Soccer League side Free State Stars came third.

The Most Promising Girl award went to footballer Mwanahalima Adam for playing a vital role in helping Harambee Starlets qualify for the continental showpiece.

Golfer Kelly Gachaga was the first runners-up with tennis player Sneha Kotecha the second runners-up.

Jos Openda was named Coach of the Year for his good record with Telkom Orange. He has helped the club win the Kenya Hockey Union league for a 19th time and Africa Club Cup Championship for a record eight times.

Former Kenya Sevens head coach Benjamin Ayimba was the first runners-up.

Kenya Sevens was named the men’s sports team of the year, Tusker FC came second after claiming a season double in 2016 with Kenya Fifteens rugby team finishing third.

Harambee Starlets was feted as the women’s team of the year followed by Telkom Orange hockey club and Roll Ball team that won the 3rd Roll Ball World Cup.

Closer links

Ethiopian marathon legend Haile Gebreselassie, the chief guest at the awards stressed on the need for Kenya and Ethiopia to continue working together in conquering the athletics world.

"Have you ever heard of Kenya being better without Ethiopia? I have never thought of Ethiopia being better without Kenya. Let us work together. The first people to fight doping are Kenya and Ethiopia."

He added; "I miss a lot competing with you guys but am preparing somebody to compete with you. These awards encourage many Kenyans. They might be for a few athletes but the result is for all Kenyans who sweat hard to make it happen."

Winners List

Sportsperson of the Year: Vivian Cheruiyot (Athletics)

Sportsman of the Year: 1. Eliud Kipchoge (Athletics), 2. Conseslus Kipruto (Athletics), 3. David Rudisha (Athletics) and Collins Injera (Rugby).

Sportswoman of the Year: 1. Vivian Cheruiyot (Athletics), 2. Faith Chepng’etich (Athletics), 3. Jemima Sumgong (Athletics).

Coach of the Year: Jos Openda (Hockey, 2. Benjamin Ayimba (Rugby).

Women’s Sports Team: 1. Harambee Starlets, 2. Telkom Orange, 3. Roll Ball.

Men’s Sports Team: 1. Kenya Sevens, 2. Tusker FC, 3. Kenya 15’s.

Federations of the Year: 1. Tennis Kenya, 2. FKF, 3. KSSSA.

Player of the Year (Boy): Allan Singar (Table Tennis).

Player of the Year (Girl): Hadassah Gichovi (Athletics.).

Coach of the Year (Schools): Philip Onyango (Basketball).

School Team of the Year (Boys): 1. Kamusinga School (Hockey), 2. Kakamega School (Rugby), 3. Upper Hill School (Basketball).

School Team of the Year (Girls): 1. Kaya Tiwi (Basketball), 2. Sinyolo Girls (Hockey), 3. AIC Kosirai (Volleyball).

Sportswoman Living with a Disability: 1. Nancy Koech (Athletics), 2. Nelly Sile (Athletics), 3. Irene Cherono (Athletics).

Sportsman Living with a Disability: 1. Samuel Muchai (Athletics), 2. Henry Kirwa (Athletics), 3. Peter Munuve (Tennis).

Most Promising Girl: 1. Mwanahalima Adam (Football), 2. Kelly Gachaga (Golf), 3. Sneha Kotecha (Tennis).

Most Promising Boy: 1. Bett Kipyegon (Athletics), 2. Ryan Randiek (Tennis), 3. Joseph Okumu (Football).

Community Hero: Felix Oloo (Rugby).

Hall of Fame: Jackson Omaido (Rugby), Naftali Temu (Athletics).