JOHANNESBURG – Wayde van Niekerk was named the winner in three categories – Sports Star of the Year, Sportsman of the Year and People’s Choice – at the 11th annual South African Sports Awards, held in Bloemfontein on Sunday.

Mzansi’s 100: Trailblazer, Wayde van Niekerk

His 74-year-old coach, Anna Botha, was named Coach of the Year.

Olympic 800m gold medallist Caster Semenya was named Sportswoman of the Year while Mamelodi Sundowns, winners of the 2016 CAF Champions League, are the Sports Team of the Year.

Charl du Toit became this year’s Sportsman of the Year with a Disability and Ilse Hayes was named Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability. Wheelchair Tennis South Africa General Manager Karen Losch received the honour of Sports Administrator of the Year. Celebrated Paralympic athlete Dyan Buis was awarded the prestigious Shield of Jove. Not only has he had excellent performances on the world stage but he has also played a huge role in inspiring young athletes from his hometown Riversdale.

The awards, jointly hosted by Sport and Recreation SA and SASCOC, honoured best performances by athletes between September 1, 2015, and September 30, 2016, in 18 categories.

South Africans chose the People’s Choice winner through SMS voting. Van Niekerk faced tough competition in this category from Semenya, swimmer Chad le Clos, cricketer Kagiso Rabada and Springbok rugby wing Seabelo Senatla.

Van Niekerk made his international debut at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Athletics and went on to win medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the 2015 Athletics World Championships.

He ran the fourth fastest time in history in the 400m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships, in March this year, and is also the first man in history to run a sub-10 100 metre, sub-20 200 metre and sub-44 400m. Van Niekerk smashed Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old 400m record (43.18 seconds) at the Rio 2016 Olympics in a time of 43.03 seconds.

Semenya wrote herself into the South African record books when she won the 400m, 800m and 1 500m events at the SA National Championships in April 2016. She has won two Olympic medals in the 800m – silver at the London 2012 Olympics and gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Semenya is shortlisted for the Women’s 2016 World Athlete of the Year Award.

Other awards:
Newcomer of the Year: Ntando Mahlangu (athletics)
Volunteer of the Year: Kim Pople (canoeing)
Indigenous Games Team of the Year: North West Khokho Team
National Federation of the Year: Roller Sport South Africa
Recreation Body of the Year: Egoli Squash
School Team of the Year: St Benedict’s Mens Coxless Pair
Developing School Team of the Year: Benny’s Sports Academy
Steve Tshwete Lifetime Achiever Award: Thomas Kwanaite (sports journalist), Mzimasi Mnguni (boxing promoter) and Francois Pienaar (rugby player).

– African News Agency

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