It’s Wayde vs Caster in awards sprint

Se­menya, who has been nom­i­nated in two of the same SA Sports Awards cat­e­gories, has the po­ten­tial to cause ma­jor up­set, writes Ti­mothy Molobi

CityPress - - Sport -

The sports star of the year award will be a tight race be­tween Olympic gold medal­lists Wayde van Niek­erk and Caster Se­menya, who will go neck and neck to the fin­ish line.

Who­ever wins will do so in nail­bit­ing fash­ion.

Van Niek­erk won the 400m track event in Rio, while Se­menya did the same in the women’s 800m. Se­menya also bagged the Di­a­mond League series.

Last week, Van Niek­erk was named the best male ath­lete of Rio 2016 at the As­so­ci­a­tion of Na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tees Awards in Doha.

Ahead of tonight’s SA Sports Awards in Bloem­fontein, the ques­tion is whether ei­ther one of the two ath­letes will make a clean sweep or whether there will be up­sets.

The two run­ners are con­test­ing in three cat­e­gories, but are go­ing head-to-head in two cat­e­gories. Their coaches are also go­ing to con­test against each other in the coach of the year cat­e­gory.

Last year’s triple win­ner Van Niek­erk will be aim­ing for a re­peat as he com­petes in the same three sec­tions – sports star, sports­man and the peo­ple’s choice awards – while Se­menya is wrestling him for the sports star and peo­ple’s choice awards. But she is also vy­ing to be­come the sportswoman of the year.

Van Niek­erk’s coach Anna Botha and Se­menya’s men­tor Jean Ver­ster are also up for best coach award.

But, as in any sport­ing event, up­sets are part of the game and noth­ing is guar­an­teed un­til the an­nounce­ment is made.

While fo­cus will be on the two ath­letes, there are other can­di­dates. The new­comer of the year cat­e­gory will be closely con­tested by Henri Schoe­man, Brad Binder and young Ntando Mahlangu.

Schoe­man se­cured a podium fin­ish in an in­ter­na­tional race for the first time in his ca­reer, win­ning bronze in the men’s triathlon in Rio.

The 25-year-old went on to win this year’s ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Fi­nal the fol­low­ing month.

Binder won the hearts of the na­tion when he was crowned the new Moto3 world cham­pion, be­com­ing the first South African rider to win a grand prix in 36 years.

How­ever, Mahlangu will give the two a run for their money in this cat­e­gory.

The 14-year-old was the toast of the na­tion when he won his first Par­a­lympic sil­ver medal in Rio this year.

A to­tal of 15 cat­e­gories will be con­tested tonight (see box).

Six Par­a­lympic ath­letes are also in con­tention for sports­man of the year with a dis­abil­ity and sportswoman of the year with a dis­abil­ity awards.

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

TOP ACHIEVER Henri Schoe­man won this year’s ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Fi­nal

PHOTO: FOTOPRESS / GETTY IM­AGES PHOTO: GALLO IM­AGES

WORLD CHAMP Brad Binder was the first lo­cal in 36 years to win a grand prix NA­TIONAL PRIDE Ntando Mahlangu won a sil­ver medal in Rio de Janeiro

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