SA athletes dominate at SA Sports Awards

Luvo Manyonga (Gallo)
Luvo Manyonga (Gallo)

Cape Town - Athletics was the big winner on Sunday night, with Track and Field athletes dominating the stage at the SA Sports Awards held in Johannesburg.

With the country's top sports stars being recognised for their achievements this year at an awards gala at Emperors Palace, long jumper Luvo Manyonga, middle-distance runner Caster Semenya and sprinter Sokwakhana Zazini, Paralympic sprinters Dyan Buis and Ilse Hayes, stole the show.

Jean Verster who coaches Semenya, was named Coach of the Year in recognition for his hard work this season, while Ansie Botha who coaches Wayde van Niekerk received Steve Tshwete Lifetime Award.

Ruswahl Samaai, who has the second best jump in the world for 2017 received the Sports Minister’s Excellence Award.

Manyonga, who won the world title and set an African record of 8.65m, was named Sports Star of the Year and Sportsman of the Year.

"Today I'm smiling as a world champion, undefeated this season. I'm a living example that it is possible, irrespective of your background, to achieve your dreams and I'm proud of that," Manyonga said.

"I thank the Almighty for everything he is doing for me, and I thank my country for recognising me."

Semenya, who earned 800m gold at the IAAF World Championships and 1 500m bronze, respectively and also set a 600m world best, received the Sportswoman of the Year and People's Choice awards.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the South African people for the support they have given me," Semenya said. "They went all out to vote for me and I really appreciate your support. Thank you!"

Paralympic sprinters Dyan Buis and Ilse Hayes received the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability awards. Youth Hurdles prodigy Zazini, who received the Newcomer of the Year accolade.

Aleck Skhosana was beside himself with excitement, noting that athletics has now entrenched itself as a leading contributor to South African sports as a recognizable and reliable brand.

"This is really wonderfull!” he said. “Athletics is moving forward and our athletes and coaches have taken their rightfull positions to lead the process.

“Congratulations to all the award winners, including our hard-working Paralympic athletes, the respective coaches, our nominees, recipients of various awards and their hard-working individual support teams."

“You just have to be proud of the likes of school-boy Zazini, who has proved to be a gem waiting to be natured to fly the flag of South Africa for the next decade in the 400m Hurdles. As an IAAF World Youth champion he deserves this award.

“Jean has proved to be a top coach in the world of middle distance. He has taken Caster to the next level of performance in the 600m, 800m and 1500m.

“Luvo has travelled the long journey to success to be the IAAF World champion and silver medalist at the Olympics in Rio 2016. He deserves the award.

“You’ve also watched Caster do her thing and deserve the Sports Woman of The Year Award. She has achieved it all in the world of athletics in 2017 by topping the 800m and setting the World Best in the 600m as well as adding the 1500m silver medal.

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