Sporting icons celebrated at KZN Sport Awards

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A galaxy of sporting stars bit their nails, fumbled nervously and sweated profusely as they awaited the much-anticipated announcement of the winners of the 2018 KZN Sport Awards at a glittering ceremony at the Durban ICC on Tuesday night.

While about 80 nominees were shortlisted across 24 categories, top achievers in the province’s sporting landscape for the period 1 August 2017 to 31 July 2018 were acknowledged at the sixth KZN Sport Awards which seeks to recognize and reward the exceptional performances and accomplishments of athletes, administrators, coaches, teams and sports media personnel from KZN, on and off the field.

Netball star Bongiwe Msomi (pictured above) gave the lie to the old saying that “lightning never strikes the same place twice” when she bagged the prestigious Sportswoman of the Year award for the second year in succession. International swimmer Henri Schoeman was declared Sportsman of the Year.

Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability, Melisa Ann O’Neil.

The Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability award went to Melisa Ann O’Neil while Aaron Alois Putz was chosen Sportsman of the Year with a Disability.

The event was attended by the KZN Premier, Mr Willies Mchunu, National Minister of Sport and Recreation, Ms Thokozile Xasa and her provincial counterpart, Mrs Bongi Sithole-Moloi.

Premier said: “In the past, sport was used as a dividing factor in communities and now it is what brings people together. Transformation based on merit remains fundamental for the progression of sport in South Africa. We want to ensure young people grow up displaying their talent in sport freely. We acknowledge the role media has played in popularising sport in the province.

“KZN plays host to internationally recognised sporting events like the Comrades Marathon which has in turn made way for the Mandela Marathon. We need to promote marathons in townships to promote sport development.

“We support you in opposing policies that seek to discriminate athletes like Caster Semenya.”

Msomi, 30, who hails from Hammarsdale, west of Durban, is a South African netball star. The ace wing attack and centre is the fifth of eight children. She started playing netball at high school in 2004 at the age of 16.

Msomi has remained the captain of the SPAR Proteas National Netball Team for the 2017 and 2018 Quad Series in Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa. She led her team to their first ever Quad Series Victory against the England Roses at Invercargill, New Zealand in 2017, beating them 54-51.

This industrious player was awarded “Best Team Player” in a vote by players and coaching staff for Adelaide Thunderbirds in 2018. She also represented the Spar Proteas team in the Test Series in Fiji in 2017.

At just 26, Schoeman is arguably one of the strongest and most consistent swimmers in the international professional triathlon circuit. A product of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sport and Recreation’s Elite Athlete Development Programme, he started 2018 with a bang when he won the World Triathlon Abu Dhabi Race in thrilling fashion by becoming only the second athlete to lead in the three legs of swimming, cycling and running.

He ran to a phenomenal victory in the 2018 Commonwealth Games held in the Gold Coast, Australia where he claimed the first of South Africa’s 13 gold medals. Schoeman stands 7th currently on the World Triathlon Series Ranking and continues to make both KZN and the country proud as he competes on the international Elite Men’s Circuit. He was also placed second in the 2018 ITU Triathlon World Cup in Cape Town and 9th in the Current ITU World Ranking.

O’ Neil represented South Africa at the 2017 International Federation for Intellectual Impairment Sport (INAS)  World Swimming Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico where she won six medals – two gold, three silver and one bronze – and broke two South African and African records for the 50m and 100m Breaststroke Long Course.

At the 2018 9th DSISO World Swimming Championships in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada for swimmers with Down syndrome, she won eight medals – three gold, four silver and one bronze. She equaled the world record in the 400m Individual Medley and set five new African records. O’ Neil is ranked the top South African female swimmer with Down syndrome.

Sportsman of the Year with a Disability, Aaron Alois Putz.

Putz represented South Africa at the 2017 INAS World Swimming Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico where he won gold in the 200m backstroke, winning a total of five individual and two relay medals. At the 2018 aQuellé Midmar Mile, he won gold in the Male Disability category.

Putz participated in the 2018 SA Sports Association for the Intellectually Impaired National Swimming Championships in Pretoria where he won 12 gold medals and emerged as the Top Male Swimmer of the Championship. He is ranked as the Number One SA Male Swimmer with a Disability in the Intellectually Impaired (S14) class.

The Department of Sport and Recreation’s vision is to enable an active and winning province through sport and recreation.

In her address, MEC for Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation, Bongi Sithole-Moloi, said: “In KZN, the popularity of professional and mass sport is growing, especially among young people. In addition, increasing numbers of individuals are choosing healthier lifestyles, seeking to regain harmony between body and spirit. Preserving the health of the nation is of paramount importance to the state and our indisputable priority.

“We have a rich sporting culture in KZN and the passion and commitment of those who have contributed to our great sporting past give our young aspiring athletes inspiration for the future.

“As a department, we are focused on enhancing our development programmes to fast-track the athlete development pathway that will lead to more podium finishes, especially for talented athletes from less-developed areas of our province.”

Sports Personality of the Year, Zinhle Ndawonde.

In recognition of some notable achievements of athletes and administrators, seven special recognition awards were bestowed by the MEC upon individuals who excelled in 2017/18.

Veteran runner Blanche Moila received the Lifetime Achievement Award; late football star and coach, Bheka Phakathi, the Posthumous Award; international canoeing star, Hank McGregor, the Special Honour Award and triathlete, Mhlengi Gwala bagged the award for Achievement Against All Odds.

Zinhle Ndawonde was chosen as the Sports Personality of the Year. The public cast their votes based on a list of 12 sports stars shortlisted by an independent panel of judges.

The sponsors of the 2018 KZN Sport Awards are acknowledged for their generosity and support – Tourvest, Selaki Sports & Leisure, Amathole Funerals, Solly-M Sports, Coastlands, Chippas Bus Service, Margate Sports School, Tsogo Sun, UBAC, World Outdoor Fitness, Ladysmith Motel, Cosmic Transport and Subban & Subban Insurance Group.

Winners of the different categories will be submitted for nomination in the national South African Sport Awards next month.

Follow the conversation on social media:

Facebook:      @officialKZNSportsAwards

Instagram:      @KZNSportAwards

Twitter:          @KZN_SportAwards

Winners in the various categories and sporting codes are as follows:

No. Category Name & Surname Code of sport
1 Photographer of the Year Anesh Debiky Media
2 Sport Journalist of the Year Mzwamandla Zondi Media
3 Indigenous Games Team of the Year Team KZN Umlabalaba IG’s
4 Developing School Team of the Year Ndabenhle Primary School team
6 School Team of the Year Zandlazethu High School School team
6 Recreation Body of the Year Peace Players Recreation Entity
7 Federation of the Year Cricket Federation
8 Volunteer of the Year Jackie De Fin Sailing
9 Administrator of the Year Nisha Rupnarain Netball
10 Technical Official of the Year Peter La Marque Aquatics
11 Coach of the Year Fadluraghman David Football
12 MEC Special Awards:
13 Lifetime Achievement Award Blanche Moila N/A
14 Posthumous Award Bheka Phakathi N/A
15 Special Honour Award Hank McGregor N/A
16 Achievement Against All Odds Mhlengi Gwala N/A
17 Junior Sportswoman of the Year Amber Schlebusoh Triathlon
18 Junior Sportsman of the Year Ben De la Porte Triathlon
19 Newcomer of the Year Sibusiso Romeo Nkosi Rugby
20 Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability Melisa Ann O’Neil Aquatics
21 Sportsman of the Year with a Disability Aaron Alois Putz Aquatics
22 Team of the Year Maritzburg United Football
23 Sportswoman of the Year Bongiwe Msomi Netball
24 Sportsman of the Year Henri Schoeman Triathlon
25 Sports Personality of the Year Zinhle Ndawonde Rugby

Photos by Lungile Chili

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