VENTURES AFRICA – In an event graced by sporting heavyweights, both home and abroad, South Africa paid homage to its sport stars who made the country proud this season at the South African Sports Awards held in Sandton, South Africa.
The event attracted politicians like Tokyo Sexwale, Thabang Makwetla, and music icons Sello “Chicco” Twala, Olera, Lira, PJ Powers, Kelly Khumalo, Sibongile Khumalo, Sipho Mabuse and the Soweto Gospel Choir. Also at the event were Tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams.
Winners at the award include 20 years old Chad le Clos, who clinched the sports star of the year – an award that is decided by public vote. Le Clos rose to fame this year after defeating the legendary American swimmer and most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps by a whisker for the gold medal in the 200 metres butterfly at the 2012 London Olympics. He also won silver in the 100 metres butterfly behind Phelps.
Le Clos got a 1 million rand ($115, 000) cash prize and a BMW sports car as part of the award he clinched. “This is unbelievable”, said Le Clos. “I never thought I will be celebrating being crowned as a Sport Star of the Year. This has been an incredible year for me. I’ve been training very hard and throughout all my victories, the pressure was there, but I just kept on working very hard.”
“All I want to tell other young South Africans is that they too can achieve more in whatever they do through hard work. I really want to thank South Africans for their overwhelming support,” he added.
Le Clos is now setting his eyes on more gold medals at the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. According to him: “I want to keep this momentum until the next Olympic Games in 2016 and I believe that through hard work and the support from my coach and the nation, I can do it again,”
“It’s going to be a little difficult for me to do better than this year but I have more goals I want to achieve in swimming — not just for next year, but for 2016″ but “With my coach (Graham Hill) and my whole team I believe I can do that. I want to take this momentum and keep swimming on a high but it’s going to be hard.
“It has been an incredible year for me,” he said. “Looking back to last year, when I got the Newcomer of the Year award, I never thought I would be the Sports Star of the Year.”
Meanwhile, swift bowler Vernon Philander and Middle-distance runner Caster Semenya, who was second in the Olympic women’s 800m final claimed the title: Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year respectively. Philander had a prolific debut Test season where he became the second fastest man to take 50 wickets in the history of cricket.
“I’ve had a pretty special 12 months. It’s almost been a dream,” he said.
Oscar Pistorius (athletics) and Natalie Du Toit (swimming) were also awarded Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year with Disability accordingly.
Other winners at the event include: Banyana Banyana’s Joseph Mkhonza (coach of the Year); Federation of the year: rowing; Siya Kolisi (Rugby) – Newcomer of the year; Sondiso Magajana (judo) – Volunteer of the year; Velile Mbuli (Sport Journalist of the year); Sydney Seshibedi (Photographer of the year); Vakhegula Football (Recreation body of the year) and Ithembelihle High (rugby) for the School Team of the year.
The Rowing Sport Federation of South Africa was one of the biggest winners. President Wimpie du Plessis swooped the administrator of the year award; Olympic gold medal-winning South African men’s coxless lightweight fours rowing team of Sizwe Ndlovu, Matthew Britain, John Smith and James Thompson also walked away with the team of the year award.
Steve Tshwete Lifetime Awards 2012goes to : Elijah Tap Tap Makhithini (boxing), Papwa Sewgolum Sewsunker (golf), Sam Ramsamy, Petros Molemela (football), Sally Little (golf), Joost van der Westhuizen (rugby) while “Green Jacket Recipients for 2012” are Matthews Motshwareteu (athletics); Blanche Moila (athletics); Grant Khomo, bestowed with order of Ikhamanga (cricket, rugby, football and tennis); Nelson Teenage Dladla (Football).