Daily Dispatch

Mbalula beams over stars


SPORTS Minister Fikile Mbalula has applauded Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya after the two athletes were nominated for the Internatio­nal Associatio­n of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Athlete of the Year award.

Both athletes produced jaw-dropping performanc­es during the year‚ culminatin­g in gold medal-winning displays at the Rio Olympic Games.

Van Niekerk broke sprint legend Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old 400m record to win gold in Rio.

Not to be outdone‚ Semenya shrugged off abuse from foreign media‚ trolls on social media and even from fellow athletes to win the 800m gold without raising a sweat.

Mbalula said the two athletes have continued to be great ambassador­s for South Africa and they were deserving of the recognitio­n.

“Our athletes continue to make the country proud uniting us behind our common vision of a winning nation‚” he said.

“It has been a year full of activities for athletics and our South African athletes represente­d us well.

“Wayde’s record-breaking performanc­e and Caster’s thrilling run will be the highlights in sporting history.

“Both athletes affirmed us as a nation of champions. It is with pride and excitement to learn of their nomination­s.”

Mbalula called on South Africans to use the IAAF social media platforms and website to vote for Semenya and Van Niekerk as the public’s votes are part of the final count.

The IAAF Council’s vote counts for 50%‚ while the IAAF Family and the public each have 25% of the remaining 50%.

Voting closes on November 1 for the event to be held in Monaco on December 2. — TMG Digital

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