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SA’s sports stars shine at awards

Written by Samona Murugan
It was a night of glitz and glamour when the country’s sports heroes were honoured and rewarded during the 2013 South African Sports Awards recently.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said the South African Sports Awards were about rewarding sportsmen and women for the hard work they put in away from the spotlight.The sports-mad country recognised the hard work, dedication and record-breaking efforts of sportsmen and women in various sporting codes during the past year.

2013 saw the rise of many talented sports stars across the country such as wheelchair tennis champion, Lucas Sithole who recorded six victories across the globe and runner Mapaseka Makhanya who set a new record in her marathon debut.

It is these inspirational sporting achievements that capture the spirit of the South African Sports Awards, which were hosted by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA).

“The beauty of sport is that you reap what you sow and when you put in the hard work it will pay off and because most of the hard work is done away from the spotlight, the early morning training sessions, the sacrifices, the strict diets and so on, we are so pleased that we are able to honour and celebrate individuals like Makhanya who are super achievers,” said SRSA Minister Fikile Mbalula.

Winners at the awards included:
Sports Star of the Year: Itumeleng Khune

Kazier Chiefs and Bafana Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune was named Sports Star of the Year.November was a busy month for the Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune. From winning the coveted Sports Star of the Year Award to leading the national team that beat world champions Spain in a friendly, Khune is definitely in the middle of a fantastic career.

He walked away with a whopping R1 million prize and the keys to a brand new BMW. Social responsibility also ranks high with the ‘spider-kid’ as he is referred to by his fans, as he donated half his winnings to the Lechelemane Primary School.

“I think all of us sitting in this room are champions and we are all winners,” said Khune, after accepting his award.

Sportsman of the Year: Cameron van der Burgh

Swimmer Cameron van der Burgh is a world record holder and breaststroke champion.

Swimming sensation Cameron van der Burgh won the award for Sportsman of the Year.As Sportsman of the Year, he walked away with a cash prize of R130 000.

After winning the award, he took to Twitter to thank his fans. “Thank you so much for the messages everyone…Harder training, faster swimming... Hope to make you guys proud again in the future,” he Tweeted.

This year alone, Van Der Burgh scooped gold in the 50m breaststroke and silver in the 100m at the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) Fina World Championships held in Barcelona recently.

His major achievements include representing South Africa at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. At the 2012 event, he clinched gold in the 100m breaststroke, while setting a new world record.

Sportswoman of the Year: Mapaseka Makhanya

This year has been one for the books for distance runner Mapaseka Makhanya. Tired of living in the shadow of runner Caster Simenya for the past few seasons, she boosted her efforts and secured her spot as number one, snatching the top spot for both the 1 500m and 5 000m at the SA Senior championships in Stellenbosch earlier this year. Following these achievements on the track, she shifted her focus to road running and made history again by setting a new record in the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge and at the 2013 Gauteng Marathon. She also achieved global success by winning the 1 500m at an international event in Mauritius in April 2013 and was part of Team SA at the World Championships in Poland in March.

Sportsman of the Year with Disability: Lucas Sithole

2013 has been a good year for Lucas Sithole. First he was crowned South Africa’s Wheelchair Tennis champion and then he was named Sportsman of the Year with Disability for the second time.

Sithole is currently South Africa’s number one ranked player in the quad division and number two in the world. In just seven years he has secured a whopping 37 career titles, which bears testament to the champ’s winning spirit.

Sithole wants to inspire children to take up the sport.

“It is such a great sport and more effort should be placed on encouraging learners to start playing. I am living proof that nothing is impossible, that is why I try and fail, but never fail to try,” he said.

Sportswoman of the Year with Disability: Kgothatso montjane

At just 27, South Africa’s number one ranked wheelchair tennis player, Kgothatso Montjane already has many big tournament wins behind her name. Now she can add the title of Sportswoman of the Year with Disability for 2013. A force to be reckoned with on the court, she also has a degree in Recreation and Leisure from the University of Venda and is now studying Retail Business Management at the University of Johannesburg. Born with a congenital defect, she had her knee amputated at a young age. Off the court, she is also passionate about youth development and hopes to “work in the community, coaching sport and organising recreational activities”.

Other winners included:

Administrator of the Year: Mimi Mthwethwa – President Netball South Africa 
Team of the Year: The Proteas - Cricket
Newcomer of the Year: Thato Tsomole – Tennis 
Coach of the Year: Holger Losch - Tennis South Africa 
Volunteer of the Year: Zakes Mkhize – Trialthon South Africa 
Indigenous Games of the Year: Simphiwe Maphumulo – Mlabalaba 
Federation of the Year: Swimming SA 
Photographer of the Year: Wessel Oosthuizen 
Journalist of the Year: Ramatsiyi Moholoa 
Developing School Team of the Year: Daniye Primary School 
School Team of the Year: Sol Plaatjie School
Recreational Bodies: Discovery 702 Walk the Talk

Each of these category winners received R 130 000 each in prize money.