Johannesburg - Sprint coach Ans Botha received a well-earned accolade on Friday night, stepping on stage at the annual International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Awards ceremony in Monaco.
Botha, who coaches 400m world champion and world record-holder Wayde van Niekerk, was given the prestigious coaching achievement award.
The 76-year-old mentor has capped her lengthy career by making a crucial contribution to Van Niekerk’s progress in recent seasons, after guiding a number of other elite South African athletes during the past 50 years.
Top three selections
Van Niekerk, meanwhile, lost out to high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar for the male athlete of the year award.
After being named alongside fellow South Africans Luvo Manyonga and Caster Semenya as one of the 20 nominees for the men’s and women’s awards, Van Niekerk was shortlisted alongside Barshim and British distance runner Mo Farah.
Aleck Skhosana, the president of Athletics SA, said: “We congratulate everyone who was nominated for the award. That, alone is a tremendous world achievement.
“It’s a great honour to be in the top three selections, even if you don’t bring the trophy home. A special tribute to Tannie Botha, who flew the national flag high following her crowning as the best coach in the world.
“We now call upon her to pass on her knowledge so that we can have more successful athletes and coaches from South Africa. Thank you for the good work".
Meanwhile, Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim and Belgium’s heptathlon champion Nafissatou Thiam were named the IAAF’s men’s and women’s athlete of the year on Friday.
World champion Barshim succeeds retired sprint legend Usain Bolt.
He claimed the title from a shortlist comprising Britain’s long distance star Farah and 400m champion Van Niekerk.
Thiam, who won heptathlon gold at the Olympics and the World Championship in London, beat off competition from Ethiopia’s 10 000m Olympic champion Almaz Ayana and Greek pole vault star Ekaterini Stefanidi.
The men’s and women’s finalists were whittled down from an original list of 10 after a vote cast by IAAF council members, fans and fellow athletes.
At the awards ceremony in Monaco, Jamaica’s Bolt was awarded the president’s prize. – Sport24