The 2017 KZN Sports Awards took place recently in Durban and it was the Department of Sport and Recreation-backed Elite Athlete Development Programme that once again featured prominently, picking up six awards on offer.
With no less than 13 nominations coming from athletes involved in the ground-breaking programme, the spotlight shone on the athletes whose achievements caught the eyes of the judges.
The six awards that were won by EADP athletes were Sports Women and Junior Sports Women of the Year, Junior Sportsman of the Year, Sportsman with a disability, and both Sportsman of the Year and Sports Personality of the Year.
Bongumusa Mthembu, winner of the 2017 Comrades Marathon, was the golden man as he scooped both the Sportsman of the Year and won the public vote in the Sports Personality of the Year award.
“I want to thank our provincial government and the Department of Sport and Recreation for all they have done for us to support us in our preparation and competition.”
Mthembu not only won the Comrades Marathon in 2017, but he formed a vital cog in the South African 100 Mile team that won the 100 Mile World Championships. He finished second in that race and broke the long-standing 100 mile record of Bruce Fordyce.
Despite this stellar year, Mthembu is already looking forward and is hoping to continue his growth as a long distance runner.
“An award like this just makes me want to work harder and get better. It is important that it has given me more motivation,” he added.
Another EADP athlete that has also had an incredible year is SPAR Proteas Netball captain Bongi Msomi. The netball stars career has sky-rocketed in 2017 and she was recognised when she won Sports Women of the Year.
“It is obviously a huge honour to be acknowledged by your province and I am grateful for the award,” the humble Msomi commented.
“The other nominees were just as deserving and I was excited to just be nominated with them!
“There is so much hard work that goes in before these awards happen, and it has been an incredible year for me and I am so happy that I was able to win.
“It’s a terrific feeling but it is not about these sorts of awards, I love netball.”
Msomi, who played for the Wasps in the United Kingdom’s Vitality Netball Superleague, was voted as the Most Valuable Player in her team and won Player of the Match in the Grand Final.
She was also selected as the captain of the national team and will now travel to Australia where she will take up her place in the Adelaide Thunder Birds team.
With a busy year behind her and another busy few months ahead of her, Msomi feels that this award was just the tonic she needed.
“These sorts of awards motivate you to continue to get better.
“I know that I have to carry on working hard because you cannot rest on your laurels after you receive awards like this,” she said.
The other awards for EADP athletes went to Christie Mackenzie (Junior Sports Woman of the Year), Yukail Naidoo (Junior Sportsman of the Year) and Kevin Paul (Sportsman of the Year with a disability).