Reigning Rio 2016 Olympic gold medalists Van Niekerk and Semenya head a stellar line-up of the region’s cream of sporting talent who will be honoured on Saturday night at the (RASA) awards, to be hosted by South Africa’s national Department of Sport and Recreation.
SA sprint star Van Niekerk and Zimbabwe swimming legend Kirsty Coventry were the winners of the inaugural Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards at RASA last year, which this year will recognise 2016 Sports Achievers within the 10-member states of the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5.
Representatives of the 10 Member States - Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe - will gather for the event at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre.
Botswana’s talented 4x400 meter men’s relay team, reigning African champions Mamelodi Sundowns from South Africa and Zimbabwe’s National Women’s Football team (the Mighty Warriors) are the nominees for the prestigious Sports Team of the Year award.
RASA 2016’s Winner of the Sports Woman of the Year with a Disability, Ilse Hayes, is nominated again in the same category for 2017. While double gold medallist, Charl du Toit is flying the SA flag in the category Sportsman of the Year with a Disability.
South Africa’s Sports and Recreation Minister, Thulas Nxesi, says his department’s hosting of RASA 2017 “resonates strongly in our commitment to the African Union’s agenda of driving sustainable development of sport in Africa”.
RASA, Nxesi said, also fits strategically with the May celebration of Africa month on the continent.
Unpacking the RASA theme of this year, AUSC CEO, Stanley Mutoya states: “The theme for RASA 2017 'Celebrating Excellence! Inspiring Innovation' affirms the AUSC Region 5 mandate of identifying, profiling and promoting the region’s representatives, who through their excellence on and off the sports fields, represent the continent with excellence, dominance and sheer sports leadership.”
This week RASA Nominees for 10 of the 12 categories were announced; while the other two categories of Confederation of the Year and Country of the Year will be announced on the night of the awards.
The RASA 2017 finalists:
Junior Sportsman of the Year: Karabo Sibanda, Athletics, Botswana; Dalamo Muller, Kick Boxing, Namibia; Beaven Sibanda, Karate, Zimbabwe
Junior Sportswoman of the Year: Mayvonne Swart, Karate, Namibia; Danielle Marie Bekker, Golf, Zimbabwe; Maquabang Tsibela, Athletics, Lesotho
Sportsman of the Year: Wayde van Niekerk: Athletics, South Africa; Charles Manyuchi: Boxing, Zimbabwe; Rudolf De Wet Moolman, Karate, Namibia
Sportswoman of the Year: Micheen Barbra Thornycroft, Rowing, Zimbabwe; Baeta Naigombo, Athletics, Namibia; Caster Semenya, Athletics, South Africa
Sportsman of the Year with a Disability: Ananias Shikongo, Athletics, Namibia; Charl Du Toit, Athletics, South Africa; Munyaradzi Musariri, Special Olympics, Zimbabwe
Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability: Johanna Benson: Athletics, Namibia; Ilse Hayes: Athletics, South Africa; Margaret Bangajena Athletics, Zimbabwe
Sports Team of the Year: Botswana 4 x 400 meters Men Relay, Athletics, Botswana; Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club, South Africa; Zimbabwe National Women Football (Mighty Warriors), Zimbabwe
Coach of the Year: Michael Humukwanya, Paralympic Committee, Namibia; Mogomotsi Otsetswe, Athletics, Botswana; Anna Botha Athletics, South Africa
Journalist of the Year: Kaino Iyaloo Ndeumono, Namibia; Thabiso Sithole, South Africa; Henry Mhara, Zimbabwe
Sportsperson of the Year: Wayde van Niekerk: Athletics, South Africa; Ananias Shikongo, Athletics, Namibia; Charles Manyuchi: Boxing, Zimbabwe