Townsend scoops local award

2009-12-10 00:00

AN extremely successful Civic Awards ceremony hosted by the Msunduzi Municipality at a splendidly decked out city hall was crowned with the announcement of world swimming star Darian Townsend as Pietermaritzburg’s own homegrown Sportsperson of the Year for 2009.

”It is an honour, as a lot of good sportsmen and women have come out of Pietermaritzburg and to be bracketed alongside the likes of Jonty Rhodes and Butch James is something special,” Townsend told The Witness.

And never mind the overall accolade, there was also strong competition among the 16 sports codes represented to determine the respective winners. In the swimming category alone, Townsend had Terence Parkin and Neil Versfeld to contend with.

Apart from its achievement in ensuring the trophy for the swimming code went his way, the outstanding performance that tipped the overall title in Townsend’s favour ahead of soccer star Bryce Moon and MTB star Greg Minnaar was the 2004 Athens Olympic Games gold medallist’s feat in breaking the 200-metre individual medley world record in Berlin three weeks ago.

Townsend (25) is truly a Pietermaritzburg-raised person, having attended Settlers Park, Northern Park, Merchiston and Maritzburg College before heading to the U.S. to further his studies and swimming career, first at the University of Florida and then the University of Arizona, where he is reading for a degree in sociology. And he has never forgotten his roots.

”PMB schools are very good and the grounding they gave me, as well as the coaching I received from Wayne Riddin at Seals Swim Club, has stood me in good stead,” Townsend said.

”I joined Seals age seven and Wayne has been my coach since then. I always come back home to train at Seals and to compete for them …”

Reflecting on the event, Msunduzi Municipality manager for marketing and communications, Brian Zuma, said the feedback has been very encouraging.

”It was a collective effort between the municipality and the sports federations that made the event possible,” he said.

”The obvious starting point was sport, and going forward, the Msunduzi Municipality’s aim is to expand the civic awards ceremony by fusing in the other disciplines, such as the creative and performing arts, as well as the outstanding administrators in our midst and the exceptional people in community service who contribute so much to enriching the quality of life in our city,” he said.

Zuma, who was responsible for the business plan and logistical issues surrounding the event, paid tribute to the contributions made by key people.

“Councillor Mazwi Msimang, as chairperson of the civic honours working group, Kathy Rajah, who took charge of all the administration and organising of the ceremony, as well as Dr Kelvin Barichievy, who represented the municipal manager, played major roles in the success of this initiative,” Zuma said.

Cricket commentator Kass Naidoo and SA Rugby president Oregan Hoskins, the master of ceremonies and guest speaker respectively, were outstanding and added significantly to the feeling that this was an evening well spent.



Squash: Justin Gouweloos; Bowls: Marinda Opperman; Netball: Nonhlanhla D. Shezi; Soccer: Bryce Moon; Darts: Keegan Rajah; Cycling: Greg Minnaar; Tennis: Monica Gorny; Hockey: Tommy Hammond; Badminton: Paul Woodroffe; Swimming: Darian Townsend; Boxing: Thabiso Mchunu; Gymnastics: Matthew Piper; Cricket: Ross McMillan; Rugby: Emile Schwartz and Siseko Jafta; Basketball: Nkululeko Mthalane; Canoe: Len Jenkins.

Overall Sports Person of the Year: Darian Townsend. Runners-up: Bryce Moon and Greg Minnaar.

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