The Most Impressive Kenyan athletes in 2014, The View from Kenya, by Justin Lagat

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Caleb Ndiku: Four medals in 2014, photo by PhotoRun.net

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Mercy Cherono, photo from Claus Andersen/Andersen Photography

We asked Justin Lagat, our Kenyan correspondent, wrote this piece about the SafariCom Sports Personality of the Year Awards, coming up in Kenya on January 16, 2015. 
The most impressive Kenyan athletes in 2014, by Justin Lagat

This year has been a long one and has been filled with great athletic moments. From the world indoors in Sopot, to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, to the Diamond League races, to the major city marathons, to the African championships in Marrakech and to the Continental Cup; many champions were made.

Kenya's Safaricom Sportsperson of the Year Awards (SOYA) will name the 2014 outstanding Kenyan athletes on the 16th of January 2015. The public can vote for their favorite athletes using their cell phones by dialing *279#.  Kenyan men in particular have been so outstanding this year to an extent that athletes like Dennis Kimetto, Julius Yego and Wilson Kipsang could not make it to the list of those to be voted to win, but one will understand the nature of the competition when they consider those who made the list.

Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku has had a marvelous year. He won four gold medals all in one year; one in the 3000m indoor championships in Sopot, another one at the Glasgow Games' 5000m, another one at the African championships in Marrakech and another one at the Continental Cup, also in Marrakech. That was not enough; he also won the 3000m/5000m Diamond League trophy for the 2014 season. He is in the list to be nominated as Kenya's SOYA winner.

Another athlete who is in the SOYA nomination list is Jairus Birech. He has also had a great year having dominated the 3000m steeplechase event in the IAAF Diamond League races, eventually winning the trophy. He ran a world leading time of 7:58.41 which ranked him in the top ten all-time in the event. He also won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games and a gold medal at the African championships in Marrakech.

Although not in the SOYA list, Dennis Kimetto who smashed the world marathon record becoming the only man to have run under 2:03.00, to me, is definitely one of the athletes that were impressive this year. Another one is Wilson Kipsang who won both the London and the New York marathons ending up as the WMM series winner. Julius Yego who finally won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games after having taken a path less travelled by other Kenyans is also worth mentioning.

Mercy Cherono is another athlete who also had a successful year in 2014 and is also on the SOYA list. She won a gold medal in the women 5000m event at the Glasgow Games and also won the 3000m/5000m IAAF Diamond League trophy. She has been working on her public image and is often seen with hair dyed in Kenyan national colors. She has been appearing in a number of local TV stations in Kenya. This has made her quite popular and has landed her some endorsement contracts. She currently appears on the TV screens drinking milk from a traditional brand telling viewers that she likes listening to a certain local radio station.

Eunice Sum will be there to challenge Cherono. She won the women 800m gold medal at the Glasgow Games and the IAAF Diamond League trophy in the same event. Sum also led Kenyans to a 1-2-3 finish in the 800m at the Marrakech African championships and also won a third gold medal at the IAAF continental cup. Another woman also on the SOYA list is Joyce Chepkirui who won gold in the women 10,000m in Glasgow and also at the African championships in Marrakech.

Florence Kiplagat was also impressive this year, having set a new world record for the women half marathon, placed second at the London Marathon, won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in the 10,000m event and finished third at the Chicago marathon. Others are Ednah Kiplagat and Mary Keitany who won London and New York City marathons respectively.

The list is endless.

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