By Nthambeleni Gabara
Johannesburg – Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion, Chad le Clos, scooped the Sport Star of the Year award during the annual glittering SA Sport Awards held in Sandton last night.
The 20-year-old Olympic gold medallist also pocketed a whopping R1 million and a brand new BMW from the awards ceremony, which was attended by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
This award is decided by millions of sport-loving South Africans who vote for the sport person who they believe has excelled in their respective sporting codes or disciplines during the period.
During the recent 2012 London Olympics, Le Clos won a gold medal in the 200m Butterfly and ended Michael Phelps’ unbeaten record of more than a decade in the event.
He was up against last year’s Sportsman of the Year winner, Hashim Amla; Natalie du Toit, who retired after winning three gold medals and one silver in the London Paralympics and another Paralympian, Oscar Pistorius; cricketer Vernon Philander, Olympic 800m silver medalist Caster Semenya, and Moroka Swallows veteran striker Siyabonga Nomvethe.
Speaking to SAnews, Le Clos said: “This is unbelievable; I never thought I will be celebrating being crowned as a Sport Star of the Year. This has been an incredible year for me. I’ve been training very hard and throughout all my victories, the pressure was there but I just kept on working very hard.
“All I want to tell other young South Africans is that they too can achieve more in whatever they do through hard work. I really want to thank South Africans for their overwhelming support,” he said.
Asked about his future plans, a jubilant Le Clos said: “I want to keep this momentum until the next Olympic Games in 2016 and I believe that through hard work and the support from my coach and the nation, I can do it again.”
Semenya won the Sportswoman of the Year award, beating Banyana veteran player Portia Modise, Marsha Marescia (hockey); Bridgette Hartley (canoeing) and Chantelle Doddermeade (judo).
“I will use this achievement to celebrate my resilience in sports. I’m very happy with the awards and I’m looking forward for the future,” said Semenya.
Ranked second to Dale Steyn in the test bowling rankings, Philander won the Sportsman of the Year award.
In the Coach of the Year category, Banyana Banyana’s Joseph Mkhonza walked away with the award.
The coach led the South African national women’s soccer team to the first Olympic Games in London this year, where they were booted out at the group stages.
Natalie du Toit won the Sportswoman of the Year with Disability award, while the Sportsman of the Year with Disability went to Pistorius.
Rowing South Africa won three awards. The federation’s president Wimpie du Plessis walked away with the Administrator of the Year award and the sporting code also won the Federation of the Year award.
The Team of the Year award went to the Olympic gold medal winning South African men’s coxless lightweight fours rowing team of Sizwe Ndlovu, Mathew Britain, John Smith and James Thompson.
“We deserve the award; we are a great team and we’ve got a lot to offer,” said Britain.
SABC radio journalist Velile Mbuli won the Journalist of the Year award, while the photographer Sydney Seshibedi won the Photographer of the Year.
The well-known Limpopo football team for the elderly, Vakhegula, won the Recreation Body of the Year award.
The South African Sport Awards were established in 2004 by the Ministry of Sport and Recreation to recognise and honour excellence in the country’s sporting industry.
The awards seek to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishment of South Africa’s heroes and heroines whose selfless service is truly indicative of the wealth of talent, dedication, passion, selflessness and patriotism, which is in abundance in South Africa’s sporting fraternity.
The objectives of the SA Sport Awards are to celebrate sport and recreation; reward sports achievement; stimulate interests in sport and recreation, thus contributing towards unearthing talent and promoting development as well as recognising luminaries in sports on and off the field of play. – SAnews.gov.za
Article adapted by SAstudy.co.za