Rally ace Wahome, two Olympic champs nominated for SOYA crown

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 23 – Female rally driver Maxime Wahome, two Olympic champions, a footballer and a volleyball queen and a budding tennis star have made the final shortlist of five for the Female Athlete of the Year crown at next month’s Sports Personality of the Year Awards (SOYA) scheduled for Kakamega.

Wahome has been shortlisted alongside double Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon, marathon Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir, Vihiga Queens and Harambee Starlets star Jentrix Shikangwa as well as Malkia Strikers star attacker Sharon Chepchumba.

Female driver Wahome, navigated by Linet Ayuko, made strides in her debut year as a rally driver, winning the All Ladies crew trophy during the Mountain Gorilla Rally in Rwanda, a leg of the gruelling Africa Rally Championships where she was sixth overall.

She was seventh overall during the Ramisi Rally where she won the Division Two category and she was ranked 14th overall at the first East African Mini Classic.

She will battle for the crown among Olympic champions who made history in Tokyo.

Peres, a half marathon specialist, handed the country its second women’s Olympics marathon title in Tokyo, winning in a time of 2hrs, 27mins, 20secs.

  • Peres Jepchirchir celebrates after winning the Olympic Marathon Gold Medal.

Further, the 28-year-old made her maiden appearance at the World Marathon Majors in New York on November 17, 2021, proving that the gold medal’s win in Tokyo was no fluke as she won the race ahead of compatriot Viola Lagat.

Kipyegon, also nominated for the World Athletics Female Athlete of the year will be another hot favourite for the title.

The smiling assassin successfully defended her title in an Olympic record time of 3:53.11, and also dominated the Diamond League races and won the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi.

Another female athlete who stole the limelight was tennis prodigy Okutoyi who won the International Tennis Federation (ITF)N World Tennis Tour juniors grade four championships singles in January and February in Nairobi as well as the doubles.

A go-getter in junior tennis circles, Angela won the Grade 3 Doubles in Cairo, Egypt in August and reached the semifinals in the singles category.

Not to be outdone, she reached the semifinals of the same competition in October this year.

Currently, the 17 year-old is ranked third in the Confederation of African Tennis (CAT) and 155th in the world junior ranking.

  • Angela Okutoyi has been nominated for Sports Personality of the Years Award

In November, Okutoyi upset the applecart when she became the first Kenyan to win the 18 and under Africa junior championship title after vanquishing Morocco’s Aya El Aouni by straight sets of 6-3, 6-3.

In women football, Kenya’s had its own wonder in the form of international Jentrix Shikanga who plies her trade with Vihiga Queens in the national Premier League.

  • Harambee Starlets forward Jentrix Shikangwa in action against South Sudan. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Shikangwa, who has an eye for goal, scored seven goals in the inaugural 2021 Confederation of African Football (CAF) Women’s Champions League CECAFA qualifiers to inspire Vihiga Queens to qualify for the final tournament after edging out Ethiopia’s CBE 2-1.

Just to prove that he was a rising star in the game in the country, Shikangwa netted a brace in the match and was voted the Most Valuable Player (MVP).

Besides the feat, Shikangwa widened her scope outside Vihiga Queens when she netted four goals for the national women’s teams, Harambee Starlets, in their massive 15-1 aggregate win over South Sudan in the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations Qualifiers which ultimately saw Kenya proceed to the second round.

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