While the country’s sprint king walked away with the main prize, South African track queen Caster Semenya was also recognised for her efforts in 2016.
SA earned five gongs with Mamelodi Sundowns being selected as the Team of the Year, while Van Niekerk’s popular coach ‘Tannie’ Ans Botha was named Coach of the Year.
The AU Sport Council Region5 (AUSC Region5) which is the sports arm of the AU aims to achieve peace, integration and unity in Africa. It is the second consecutive year Van Niekerk was named RASA Sportsperson of the Year.
Earlier this year Van Niekerk’s world-record run at lasat year’s Rio Olympic Games earned him a nomination for the 2017 Laureus World Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category, which went the way of Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg.
Last year Van Niekerk received recognition from the Association of National Olympic Committees (Anoc) when he was named Best Male Athlete of the Rio Olympic Games. Van Niekerk lost to Jamaican sprinting icon Usain Bolt in the male IAAF World Athlete of the Year at the end of last year.
Van Niekerk, who raced to Olympic victory in August when he broke the 400m world record time of 43.03 seconds, raced to his first sub-10 second time in the 100m at the Free State Championships in Bloemfontein in March last year and in the process, he became the first man to dip below 10s, 20s, and 44s in the 100m, 200m, and 400m.