Oscar Pistorius made South Africans proud again recently when he scooped the 2012 Laureus Award for the World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability.
The awards honour sporting personalities and teams for their performances in the previous year. The winners are determined by the Laureus World Sports Academy.
What a kick-off!
Pistorius, also referred to as the ‘Blade Runner’, is a double amputee and runs on specially designed carbon fibre blades. Now 25, he was born with a congenital absence of the fibula and his legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old.
He received a Laureus Award for becoming the first amputee to win a track medal in the non-disabled World Championships – a silver in the 4 x 400-m relay in South Korea. Aided by his carbon fibre blades, Pistorius went on to become a Paralympics gold medalist in 2008.
Congratulating Oscar Pistorius on his achievement, South Africa’s Olympic governing body President, Gideon Sam said, “What a kick-off to our Olympic and Paralympic campaign! There’s no doubt Oscar will be one of the key weapons in our battle to win even more medals at the Paralympics. He is not only a Paralympics legend already, not only a fine ambassador for South Africa, but also a role model for both athletes with disabilities and able-bodied athletes.”
Such a privilege
Pistorius received the Laureus statuette from Spanish actress Elsa Pataky and skateboard legend Tony Hawk during the globally televised awards ceremony in London. “It’s such a great privilege ... it is really humbling to be here. To all the Laureus Academy members, all you guys, thank you very much,” an elated Pistorius said.
He ran a personal best 400-m time of 45,07 seconds in Italy last year to qualify for the world championships and is now bidding to be part of Team South Africa at this year’s 2012 Olympic Games in London.
South Africa’s Olympic governing body chief executive officer, Tubby Reddy, also congratulaed Pistorius. “Oscar is a remarkable young athlete. The impact that he has had on uplifting the image of sportsmen and women with disabilities is enormous. Coming as it does in an Olympic and Paralympic year, this honour is a huge boost for South African sport.”
Laureus World Sportsman of the Year went to tennis player Novak Djokovic, who has won three Grand Slam events, the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
The Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award went to Kenya’s long-distance runner Vivian Cheruiyot, who won gold medals in both the 5 000-m and 10 000-m events at the World Championships in Daegu.
The Laureus World Team of the Year went to FC Barcelona, a favourite among football fans in South Africa. The Spanish team continues to dominate European football and the domestic league.
The Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year went to youngster Rory McIlroy, who won the US Open, his first major championship.
Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year was presented to Kelly Slater. This was Slater’s fourth Laureus Award, equalling the record of Roger Federer, the only other four-time winner.
England’s football legend Bobby Charlton received a Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award, while Rai Souza Vieira de Oliveira, the former Brazilian footballer, now social justice campaigner, won the Laureus Sport for Good Award.
-Kemantha Govender, BuaNews