Nantes honours its members

2017-04-11 06:01
Gilbert Leibrandt and Salwa Samsodien were voted male and female runners of the year respectively for Nantes athletic club at a gala function held at the Barons Estate in Ottery on Friday eveningPHOTO: Rashied Isaacs

Gilbert Leibrandt and Salwa Samsodien were voted male and female runners of the year respectively for Nantes athletic club at a gala function held at the Barons Estate in Ottery on Friday eveningPHOTO: Rashied Isaacs

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The Nantes Athletics Club held their annual awards in Ottery on Friday evening.

The club, a community athletics club which operates from Nantes Park in Bridgetown, has maintained a membership of 400 for the last two years and still growing.

Gilbert Leibrandt and Salwa Samsodien garnered the top awards as the men’s and women’s athlete of the year respectively with Leibrandt also being awarded the club’s highest miler award (for running the furthest in a calendar year).

“I am humbled,” he says.

“I really did not expect to get these awards and did not even know that there was an award for most distance.

“It’s just hard work, dedication and discipline that come through in the end. If you are disciplined in what you do, you can achieve.”

Samsodien was equally surprised at her award, but says that she trained hard throughout the year.

“My strength, my help was there and I am grateful to the Almighty that I have achieved this. I am sure that most youngsters would be inspired by this, but let’s hope that they can also learn from training,” she says.

The award ceremony was attended by the president of Western Province Athletics Lester Cameron as well as ward 44 councillor Anthony Moses, who was an avid runner in his day.

“The club is a true example for social change within our community,” says Moses.

“I am always impressed by Nantes and they always challenge me to get back to get back to running, as a former runner myself.

“The event is also a celebration for us as a community, to see how we can work together as a community, to promote healthier living and also positive change for our communities.

“I want to challenge the club to go to the next level in getting every youngster at risk off the street and also try to develop their lives as well.”.

He also challenges the club to develop a strategy the City can use around the culture of running.

“I know that we are going to conduct the public participation in terms of the cycling strategy, but would it not also be good to have a running strategy for runners in the City of Cape Town and that is the next level that I want them to get into,” he adds.

Moses adds that he is pleased that the club is adding value to the lives of the community it serves.

“It’s something positive, just last night as I drove through the ward, especially along Petunia Road, I saw some of the Nantes runners in the street and it is really encouraging to know that people are taking time out to improve their lives in terms of taking a healthy stance,” he says.

Cameron says that he has seen the progression of the club since its inception.

“They are doing a tremendous job in gathering the folk, so that they can improve their health through running, walking, and ­jogging.

“They are bringing people together who have never run in their lives now completing 5km, 10km, half-marathons, 30kms, marathons and even the Two Oceans.

“It’s a fantastic achievement for some of the “old ladies”, but you must come and see them when they are kitted out in their black and green outfits, walking the streets of Bridgetown and Nantes Park,” he says.

The next event on the calendar for the Nantes Athletics club is their second annual Freedom Day run, which will take place at the park.

Moses has also set himself a challenge on the day.

“I have set myself a target, to run the Nantes race on 27 April, which is Freedom Day,” Moses says. “My ‘freedom’ depends on if I run the 10km under 40 minutes, then I join the club. If not then I still have to engage myself again, because that is my target.”

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