Rally driver Onkar Rai crowned sports personality of the month of June

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021 00:00 |
Rally driver Onkar Rai when he was feated as the Sports personality of the month of June yesterday. Photo/PD/EDWIN OTIENO

Edwin Otieno

Nakuru-based speedster Onkar Singh Rai is the June Sports Personality of the Month following a stellar drive in the iconic World Rally Championships (WRC) Safari Rally Kenya last month.

Driving a Volkswagen Polo R5 and navigated by Briton Drew Sturrock, the KNRC Premier Class ace achieved the feat after winning WRC3 Class with zest and vigor.

Onkar also scored WRC points in a credible seventh overall place.

Onkar, a Safari Priority 3 driver, led a Kenyan trio to a fairy tale top 10 finish against powerful WRC contraptions which returned to the country after a long 19 year hiatus.

Karan Patel and Carl Tundo also scored WRC points after finishing in the 8th and 9th positions respectively.

In winning the monthly gong, Onkar took home a 55 inch LG NanoCell TV courtesy of award title sponsors LG Electronic.

Onkar becomes the second rally driver to lay his hands on the coveted Sports Journalists Association of Kenya (SJAK)-organised Award after three-time African Rally champion Manvir Baryan won it in June 2018.

Onkar, a former Kenya National Division 2 champion and three-time back-to-back Nakuru Rally winner, beat five other nominees namely beach volleyballer Brackcides Agalla, 100m sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala, middle distance runner Faith Kipyegon, former half marathon world record holder Geoffrey Kamworor and basketballer Medina Okot.

Brackcides spearheaded Kenya to a maiden women’s Beach Volleyball Olympic qualification in Morocco, while Omanyala ran a Kenyan national record of 10.02 in the men’s 100m to earn his ticket for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in emphatic fashion.

Kipyegon won the women’s 1,500m at the Florence Diamond League meeting in a national record of 3:53.91.

Kamworor, was nominated for the coveted award after booking the Tokyo 2020 spot in 10,000m after winning the race at the Kenyan Trials while School girl Medina Okot was voted Most Valuable Player upon leading Kenya Ports Authority women basketball team to a deserving 103 -56 victory over Cezoball select women team in the final of the Malawi International basketball tournament.

Onkar was all smiles upon winning the award. “It’s such an honour and privilege to be awarded and this really goes to show the hard-work and sacrifices I have put in the sport over the past two years.

This could not have come into play were it not for the support system around me and more so my brother Tejveer (Rai) and my dad Jaswant who effortlessly pushed me.

I however, want to donate my television award worth Sh120,000 to Nakuru Level Five hospital to create awareness for people with spinal injuries,” Onkar said.

Onkar joins the growing list of 2021 winners who include tennis superstar Angela Okutoyi (January), basketballer Tylor Okari Ongwae of Kenya Moran’s  (February), Tokyo Olympics boxer Elly Ajowi (March), World marathon champion Ruth Chepng’etich (April) and Milan Marathon winner Titus Ekiru (May).

LG Electronics Corporate Communications Manager Maureen Kemunto while congratulating Onkar, noted that the company is proud to be a part of an initiative which rewards excellence in sport.

“Our partnership with SJAK goes a long way in bolstering athletes’ talent as well as empowering them to be the backbone of sports in the country.

Being an Olympic month, sports personalities are giving their all in their bid to rack up new limits in the sport hence the need to reward their great efforts.

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