Time to shine for SA’s biggest sports stars

2014-10-19 15:01

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Star jumper Khotso Mokoena will gauge his popularity against popular swimmer Chad le Clos in the race for this year’s SA Sports Star of the Year award.

Popularity, and not merit, has proved to be the deciding factor in choosing the winner of the prestigious award since the inception of the glitzy event three years ago.

Now Mokoena?–?triple jump champion at the Commonwealth Games and the African Championships, as well as the IAAF Diamond League long jump winner?–finds himself pitted against Le Clos who many felt deserved last year’s sports star award over the eventual winner, Itumeleng Khune of Kaizer Chiefs.

“It’s not easy to be up there with the best.

“I am just happy to be nominated and am hoping for the best regarding the public vote,” Mokoena told City Press.

Others vying for the grand prize are Banyana Banyana striker Portia Modise, cricketer AB de Villiers, wheelchair marathon champ Ernst van Dyk and rugby player Duane Vermeulen.

“Crocodile”, as Mokoena is known in athletics, makes up a group of four senior track and field athletes who were nominated across three categories in the sports awards this week.

He will also face off with 2012 winner Le Clos?–?described by his coach Graham Hill as the “ultimate swimming machine” –?in the Sportsman of the Year category.

Other track and field athletes nominated for the sports awards are 400m hurdles triple gold champion Cornel Fredericks (sportsman), SA 400m record holder Wayde van Niekerk (newcomer) and javelin star Sunette Viljoen (sportswoman), as well as Youth Olympics 400m hurdles champion Gezelle Magerman.

Athletics SA (ASA) also has its former interim chairperson Daan du Toit nominated in the administrator of the year category.

ASA president Aleck Skhosana said the sizable number of track and field athletes’ representation reflected the hard work that was put in by the athletes and the coaches this year.

As for his expectations, he was noncommittal on the ASA athletes’ chance of winning over more popular codes such as soccer, rugby and cricket.

“Our athletes will have to accept the outcome?–?positive or negative?–?as that will never matter since they made the list against equally top sports people,” said Skhosana.

“We have to live with the criteria [that the public vote decides who wins the sports star award].”

It is puzzling that ASA was not nominated for the federation of the year award considering that it garnered more medals from international competition than the other sporting codes this year.

South African athletics is now ranked number one on the continent after athletes made a near-clean sweep of medals at the African Championships in August.

.?The ASA board will endorse its outstanding financial statements at a special general meeting on Saturday. Skhosana said it would also sign off fixtures for next year.

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