Top 10 upcoming sports stars in Kenya
1. Sammy Oliech
The Impala RFC utility back has been in sizzling form this season for his club helping it to finish a respectable sixth position in the Kenya Cup league and National Sevens Circuit.
After staying in the shadows of Kenyan Sevens stars, he silently made the switch to 15s rugby and head coach handed him his first cap against Portugal.
He rewarded the coach’s confidence by scoring two tries and was a constant threat to the Os Lobos. He’s currently with the Simbas preparing to take Zimbabwe’s Sables in Africa Cup matches.
2. Michael Olunga
A former Upper Hill school student, the lanky striker has been the mainstay of Gor Mahia’s stellar run in Kenyan Premier League scoring 8 goals and assisting a couple others. His partnership with veteran’s Meddie Kagere, resurgent Ali Abondo has given many defenders nightmares.
The trio has scored 26 goals between them in the league. Olunga has been touted as the next Mike Okoth of Harambee Stars and many football pundits have tipped him to play abroad.
3. Brad Owako
Another rugby gem in the making. Brad Owako is an explosive centre playing for rugby giants Mwamba RFC. A product of Laiser Hill Academy, famed for rugby and basketball prowess, Owako has had a good season with Kulabu and had been drafted in the Kenya A squad preparing to take on Uganda in Elgon Cup.
He was however been omitted due to a hamstring injury. Owako looks set to dominate the midfield battles in the coming years and is prime for national duty.
4. Pauline Naise
Pauline Naise, a multi-talented sports lady, put up such sterling performance for USIU-A in 2014 that Strathmore coach Meshack Senge couldn’t resist coveting her. He quickly snapped her up from the Thika Road-based college and is now helping the Madaraka outfit to gain a foothold in the competitive women’s national league.
Naise has also been instrumental in guiding the national team to continental honours. She was named most promising hockey player in the 2014 Magharibi Michezo Awards.
5. Janet Akello a.k.a Shebesh
Women rugby is not yet big in the country but that has not stopped the fleet-footed Janet Akello from embracing the game and excelling in it. Fondly referred to as “Shebesh”, Akello has helped KCB Ladies RFC steam roll teams in the ongoing KRU organized ladies 10s tournaments.
She started playing the game in Butere Girls in 2010 and made her debut for the national team in 2012 barely out of school. Mercurial winger Celestine Masinde can now retire knowing that her position is well covered.
6. Nicholas Kipkurui
The Form Four student at Kipchimchim High School in Kericho has taken FKF Premier League by storm. The Zoo Kericho danger man has already notched 8 goals and is already knocking on the doors of national team Harambee Stars. Kipkurui has attracted interest from KPL giants Tusker and Gor Mahia.
7. Ishmael Changawa
The Kilindini-born tennis star is already causing ripples on the continent. Ranked 107 in the world, Ishmael Changawa has played 63 singles matches winning 37 and 63 doubles winning 40 of those ties.
The 18 year old started playing the game 10 years ago and is currently in Florida, US for studies. He will be looking to break into the money spinning ITF circuits soon.
8. Virginia Nyambura
Virginia Nyambura specialises in the steeplechase. She was the gold medalist in the steeplechase at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics and won her first senior medal at the 2015 IAAF World Relays, where she was a member of the Kenyan team which broke the African record for the distance medley relay.
Her personal best for the 3000 metres steeplechase is 9:21.51 minutes, set in 2015. She can dare dream for an Olympic gold medal in Rio 2016.
9. Carvin Nkanata
Carvin Nkanata is a US-born Kenyan athlete specialising in the sprinting events. He won the bronze medal in the 200 metres at the 2014 African Championships. His personal best in the 200 metres is 20.14, set in 2015. This is the current Kenyan record.
He has also raced against Usain Bolt in Diamond League. He’s a certain bet to become an Olympian.
10. Naomi Wafula
Naomi Wafula is barely 17, yet the form three student at Makini School is one of the hottest and most talented female Kenyan golfers, and probably the next big thing in the sport. Naomi, coached by the legendary Rose Naliaka, was first selected to play for the female national golf team aged only 12.
Among her numerous awards are the 2011 SOYA Award trophy, the All Africa Challenge (Junior) Trophy (AACT) that she won in Botswana in 2012, and the 2013 JGF (Junior Golf Foundation) Top Girl of the Year.