Sasha Mongeli was named the StarTimes/Sports Journalist Association of Kenya (SJAK) Sports Personality of the Month for October 2018.
This was the first time a chess player has been named the best player of the month by sports scribes with Startimes.
The Technical University of Kenya (TUM) student Mongeli beat Equity Hawks’ Belinda Okoth, tennis sensation Angela Okuyoti and world half marathon record holder Abraham Kiptum for the accolade.
Mongeli attained the higher Women Fide Master (WFM) title during the World Chess Olympiad held in Batumi, Georgia between September 28- October 6.
The 21-year-old made her debut at the biennial event and she achieved the feat with two rounds to score.
Her score of eight wins out of nine games was one of the best in the Olympiads and the highest percentage score by a Kenyan in the Olympiad’s history.
She had previously gained a Women Candidate Master (WCM) title during the 15-day event before upgrading to the WFM
Compatriot Lucy Wanjiru also attained a WCM title after stunning her higher rated opponent in a well-played rook ending as the Kenyan side returned with two individual times.
Her exploits saw her win a 42-inch digital television courtesy of StarTimes as well as Sh100,000 and a trophy. And the accolades left the third-year Actuarial Science major quite surprised.
“I honestly never though that something like this would happen to me. Chess is not a very popular sport like football, rugby or event athletics, but you have shown that indeed we matter,” she said.
“This award will inspire more chess players to continue working hard because now it is evident that our efforts are not going unnoticed,” she added. Mongeli will now turn her attention to next weekend’s season ending Kenya National Chess Championship.
“Not many people consider chess as a sport and so to award someone from this field is quite remarkable and unique. This award is all about going beyond the norm and unearthing those that have been forgotten,” StarTimes Director of Marketing and PR, Mr. Japheth Akhulia, said.
“As a brand, StarTimes will endeavor to encourage our sports men and women through these awards as a way of recognizing their dedicated efforts in the industry.
SJAK chairman, Chris Mbaisi, said the association ventured into the unique monthly awards to give non-football players a chance to be recognized. “We are happy that these awards are already inspiring players to work hard to accomplish their aim,” Mbaisi noted