Track star Wayde van Niekerk was the big winner, as expected, receiving multiple accolades at the SA Sport Awards in Bloemfontein on Sunday night.
The versatile sprinter, who shattered the 400m world record to win gold in 43.03 seconds at the Rio Olympics, was named Sports Star of the Year, People’s Choice and Sportsman of the Year at the annual gala ceremony.
“It’s such an honour for me to say I’m South African, and I’m so proud to do it each and every time I step on the track,” Van Niekerk said.
Van Niekerk’s coach, Ans Botha, was also recognised as Coach of the Year.
Meanwhile, fellow track athlete Caster Semenya, who had been nominated for three gongs after winning Olympic 800m gold in a national record of 1:55.28, was revealed as the Sportswoman of the Year.
Semenya hit out at her critics after shaking off an ongoing debate about her gender to go unbeaten in her specialist event this season.
“They say she talks like a man, she walks like a man, she runs like a man. Urgh. ‘Tsek,” she said in her acceptance speech.
Van Niekerk and Semenya were among five athletes – including motor racing star Brad Binder, sevens rugby player Seabelo Senatla and cricket player Kagiso Rabada – to receive International Achievement trophies, while Van Niekerk and Paralympic sprint medallist Dyan Buis both received the prestigious Shield of Jove.
Sprint sensation Charl du Toit, who won two gold medals and broke the 100m world record in his class at the Rio Paralympics, was named Sportsman of the Year with a Disability, and another speedster Ilse Hayes, who pocketed two silver medals at the Games, was announced as Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability.
The Mamelodi Sundowns football squad, who won the African Champions League this year, were recognised as Team of the Year.