Caster wins SPAR gsport award

2012-11-21 11:39

Johannesburg - Olympic silver medallist Caster Semenya has won the 2012 SPAR gsport Athlete of the Year award, beating off stiff competition from fellow Olympic medallist Bridgitte Hartley and South Africa’s most capped athlete, national hockey captain Marsha Marescia, at the prestigious Wanderers Club in Illovo, Johannesburg, on Tuesday.

This is Semenya’s second major award in as many weeks, after she walked away with the Sportswoman of the Year award at the recent SA Sports Awards.

“It’s great a feeling. I feel very honoured and special. It’s great to win back to back Awards,” said a trilled Semenya after the awards.

Over 230 000 votes were cast on the gsport website as the public voted for their favourites to win at the SPAR gsport Awards, South Africa’s only awards event dedicated to women’s sport.

“I think the public did very well in selecting these winners. They’re all very strong women who’ve excelled in what they do. They’ve made us, especially as women, really proud of their
achievements,” said SPAR Sponsorship Manager Belinda Nel.

South Africa’s most celebrated Paralympian Natalie du Toit, who was the only individual nominated in two categories, won the Athlete of the Year with a Disability award, but lost out to Pole Fitness Champion Venessa Clack, who was named gsport Woman of the Year.

“I’ m so trilled and proud. I feel so honoured to win and to have been nominated against such amazing athletes. It feels like I have been recognised not only for the work that I’ve done this
year but for the past seven years of really hard work,” says Clack.

Junior 800m sensation Thato Makhafola won the battle of the rising stars, beating KwaZulu-Natal’s Lauren Varty and Chess champion Tasnim Amra to the title of Up and Coming Athlete of the Year.

“I feel really honoured. I never expected to win; I just wanted a good bag,” Makhafola said laughing. “I feel really proud and honoured.”

The gsport Coach of the Year award was won by SPAR Proteas netball coach Elize Kotze, who was shortlisted for the award alongside Banyana Banyana coach Joseph Mkhonza, and Proteas women’s cricket coach Yashin Ebrahim-Hassen.

“This is a fantastic surprise, not only for netball but for women in South Africa. I am thankful for women like Kass Naidoo who started this initiative; this is what South Africa needs,” Kotze said.

Rugby writer Tarryn Steenekamp won the gsport Woman in Media Award, while popular television presenter Lalla Hirayama won the gsport Style Star of the Year Award.

“It’s such an honour, it’s so special. It’s not about me just winning; it’s about all the women in sports media. It is difficult being in a male dominated industry; you must be passionate and follow your dreams,” said Steenekamp, who beat off strong competition from Carol Tshabalala and Natalie Germanos.

“I’m totally overwhelmed. I feel very privileged. Kudos to Kass Naidoo for starting this initiative and promoting women in sport and women in general. I feel very honoured to be connected to it,” Hirayama who beat off strong competition from LeAnne Dlamini and Jo-Ann Strauss said.

SASOL was named Sponsor of the Year for its commitment to women’s football, both at grassroots and top level, and the SA Hockey Association was named Sports Federation of the Year, for its efforts to raise the profile of women’s hockey.

SA Hockey Association CEO Marissa Langeni was thrilled with the award. “I feel very excited, anything to do with women’s sport I love. There are a lot of talented women in South Africa and they should be out there leading in sports administration,” she said proudly.

The SPAR Recognition Award was presented to BLD Group Executive Chairperson Bruce Davidson for his pioneering work in women’s sport sponsorship. “This was a total surprise.

Thank you to the gsport4girls team for everything they’ve done promoting women’s sport since 2006. I have always been passionate about women’s sport. There are not enough companies who support it. I don’t do it for the recognition but it’s great to be honoured,” he says.

The Volunteer of the Year Award went to sports volunteer Anela Mahamba, who uses social media to raise the profile of sport. “I feel so honoured. I wasn’t expecting this. I don’t do it for
the recognition but it’s great to win. This has inspired me to keep doing what I do.”

The final award of the morning saw women’s sports ground-breaker, Muditambi Ravele, being inducted into the gsport Hall of Fame.

Ravele’s highlights include heading the first-ever Women in Sport initiative in 1996, and playing a key role in transforming netball and attracting top sponsors to the game. “It’s one of the events where you feel good. This is one event where you will see more women than men, which just makes me feel that you know what, there is a way,” Ravele says.

“It is important to celebrate icons and role models because it helps inspire the next generation. Congratulations to everyone nominated especially the finalists and winners. I hope they use this platform to build their brands and that of their respective sporting codes.

“We are grateful to SPAR for partnering the 2012 Awards campaign and giving us the opportunity to shine a bright light on women’s sport,” said gsport4girls founder Kass Naidoo.

The 2012 SPAR gsport Awards was supported by SuperSport, Worldwide Sports, HRG Rennies Travel, Big Five Duty Free Tip Top, Monster Production and Events, and the Wanderers Club.

2012 SPAR gsport Awards Winners (in Awards event order):

Volunteer of the Year: Anela Mahamba
Sports Federation of the Year: SA Hockey Association
Sponsor of the Year: SASOL
SPAR Recognition Award: Bruce Davidson
Style Star of the Year: Lalla Hirayama
Coach of the Year: Elize Kotze
Woman in Media: Tarryn Steenekamp
Woman of the Year: Venessa Clack
Up and Coming Athlete of the Year: Thato Makhafola
Athlete of the Year with a Disability: Natalie du Toit
SPAR Athlete of the Year: Caster Semenya
gsport Hall of Fame Inductee: Muditambi Ravele

2012 SPAR gsport Awards Finalists:

SPAR Athlete of the Year
Bridgitte Hartley
Marsha Marescia
Caster Semenya

Athlete of the Year with Disability
Ilse Carstens
Natalie du Toit
Kgothatso Montjane

Up and Coming Athlete of the Year
Tasnim Amra
Thatho Makhafola
Lauren Varty

gsport Coach of the Year
Elize Kotze
Yashin Ebrahim-Hassen
Joseph Mkhonza

gsport Woman in Media
Natalie Germanos
Tarryn Steenekamp
Carol Tshabalala

gsport Style Star
LeAnne Dlamini
Lalla Hirayama
Jo-Ann Strauss

gsport Woman of the Year
Venessa Clack
Natalie du Toit
Sue Pather

All winners unveiled at the 2012 SPAR gsport Awards (from left) Personal Account Writer Award winner, Chervon Chetty; 2012 SPAR Athlete of the Year winner, Caster Semenya; 2012 Style Star winner, Lalla Hirayama; inaugural SPAR Recognition Award recipient, Bruce Davidson; 2012 Coach of the Year, Elize Kotze; 2012 Woman of the Year winner, Venessa Clack; 2012 Up and Coming Athlete Award winner, Thato Makhafola; inaugural gsport Hall of Famer, Penny Heyns; 2012 Volunteer of the Year Award winner; Anela Mahamba; 2012 Woman in Media, Tarryn Steenekamp; 2012 Hall of Fame inductee; Muditambi Ravele;  2012 Athlete of the Year with a Disability, Natalie du Toit; 2012 Sponsor of the Year, SASOL representative Dumisani Mbokane, and Sports Federation of the Year winner, SA Hockey Association CEO, Marissa Langeni, pictured at the Wanderers Club, in Illovo, Johannesburg, on Tuesday, 20 November, 2012. (Photo: Reg Caldecott/gsport4girls)