Van Niekerk and Semenya Win Big At The SA Sport Awards


Penelope Cairns |

Rio Olympics 400-metre gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk ran off with the South African Sport Star of the Year award on Sunday night.

Image from RSA Min of Sport ‏Mbalula Fikile's Twitter Page
Image from RSA Min of Sport ‏Mbalula Fikile’s Twitter Page

The young track star, who also won the award last year, had set a new world record in the one-lap sprint with a time of 43.03sec.

It was a grand occasion for the 24-year-old, with the awards being held in his home town of Bloemfontein. As SA Sports Star of the Year, van Niekerk won a new car and a whopping R1-million, of which half will be donated to charity. Not only did he win the Sports Star of the Year, he also won the SA Sportsman of the Year award.

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA - NOVEMBER 27: Chesney Campbell and Wayde van Niekerk during the SA Sports Awards at Sand du Plessis Theatre on November 27, 2016 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images)
BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA – NOVEMBER 27: Chesney Campbell and Wayde van Niekerk during the SA Sports Awards at Sand du Plessis Theatre on November 27, 2016 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images)

Wayde van Niekerk made history during the Rio Olympic Games when he shattered a 17-year-old world record in the 400 metres by running 43.03. American Michael Johnson held the previous mark of 43.18, set in 1999.

Van Niekerk, who appeared in his first Olympics, was the first South African to win gold in the event in 96 years. Though the performance put him in the history books, van Niekerk had previously become the only person to ever run under 10 seconds in the 100, under 20 seconds in the 200, and under 44 seconds in the 400. The 24-year-old ran his world record during the Olympics from the eighth lane, defeating his opponents by a stunning margin.

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA - NOVEMBER 27: Caster Semenya during the SA Sports Awards at Sand du Plessis Theatre on November 27, 2016 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images)
BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA – NOVEMBER 27: Caster Semenya during the SA Sports Awards at Sand du Plessis Theatre on November 27, 2016 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images)

Van Niekerk’s fellow Team South Africa member in Rio, Caster Semenya won the SA Sportswoman of the Year award. Like van Niekerk she also won gold at the Rio Games, Semenya ran not only the best race of her life, waiting until midway through the second lap to make a surge, but also she set a national record with her time of 1:55.28. She never lost a heat in Rio.

Semenya and van Niekerk weren’t the only winners of the night, van Niekerk’s coach, Ans Botha, won Coach of the Year.

There was more recognition for van Niekerk as he was also given the People’s Choice Award, was one of five International Achievers recognised and was one of two winners in the Shield of Love category.

Sportsman of the Year with a disability was double Paralympic gold medallist Charl du Toit while Ilse Hayes, winner of two silver medals in Rio, was named Sportswoman of the year with Disability. The Newcomer of the Year Award went to Ntando Mahlangu, the 14-year-old double leg above the knee amputee, who only learnt to walk four years ago after deciding to amputate his legs as he had spent all of his mobile life in a wheelchair.

In Rio, The Mpumalanga athlete motored to a time of 23.77 seconds, only being beaten by British Paralympic sensation Richard Whithead (23.39).

The full list of winners from the gala evening is:

Sport Star of the Year: Wayde van Niekerk
Sportswoman of the Year: Caster Semenya
Sportsman of the Year: Wayde van Niekerk
People’s Choice Award: Wayde van Niekerk
Team of the Year: Ans Botha
Newcomer of the Year Award: Ntando Mahlangu
Sportswoman of the year with a Disability: Ilse Hayes
Sportsman of the year with a Disability: Charl du Toit

Article originally appeared on SASCOC.

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