Blind runner scoops prizes

Stanley Malope, head of the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, presents the Sports Star of the Year award to all-conquering blind athlete Louzanne Coetzee on Friday (28/09).Photo: Supplied
Stanley Malope, head of the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, presents the Sports Star of the Year award to all-conquering blind athlete Louzanne Coetzee on Friday (28/09).Photo: Supplied

The Free State and South Africa all-conquering blind star, runner Louzanne Coetzee, has made a clean sweep at the 2018 Free State Sports Awards ceremony.

Recognising athletes, admi­nistrators and teams excelling in sport, the event was held on Friday (28/09) in Bloemfontein.

The provincial Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation hosted this ceremony in partnership with the Free State Sport Confederation (FSSC).

Coetzee (24) went home with three accolades after being chosen as the deserving reci­pient in respective categories.

She was awarded as the Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability, Sports Star of the Year and the Award for Excellence.

Coetzee was rewarded for making history internationally and in South Africa this year, smashing records.

Studying for a master’s degree in Social Cohesion and Reconciliation Studies at the University of the Free State, she made headlines in April when she became the first visually impaired athlete to compete at the International University Sports Federation (Fisu) Cross Country Championship in Switzerland.

The inspiring athlete ended 61st of 62 runners in her event, and yet received ovation and respect of many.

She did exceptional at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Berlin in July in three events – the 800 m, 1 500 m and 5 000 m. In devastating form, alongside her guide runner Xavier Adams, Coetzee set a new African record in the T11 800 m race, and in a remark­able 13.97 seconds off her own T11 5 000 m time, smashing her own world record, which she ran unrivalled on the track.

Stanley Malope, head of the department, said the ceremony continues the department’s commitment to making sport a tool for social cohesion and economic deve­lopment.

“We need to believe in the power of sport to deliver in and on peace building, peace keeping, social cohesion and nation building.

“The driving force of our actions should be the passion to maximise the potential of sport to address many of the ills in society linked to inactivity, and to contribute in building healthy and peaceful communities and a better South Africa for all,” Malope said.

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