Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula has congratulated Olympic gold medallists Caster Semenya and Wayde van Niekerk on their nominations for the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Athlete of the Year Awards.
“Our athletes continue to make the country proud, uniting us behind our common vision of a winning nation. It has been a year full of activities for athletics and our South African athletes represented us well,” said Minister Mbalula on Wednesday.
At the Rio Olympics held recently in Brazil, Van Niekerk clinched gold for the country when he made world history by breaking the 17-year-old record set by Michael Johnson’s mark of 43.18 in the men’s 400m. Van Niekerk won the gold medal and set a world record of 43:03 seconds.
South Africa’s golden girl, Caster Mokgadi Semenya, won the 800m gold medal at 1 minute 55.28 seconds, making this the 25th gold won by South Africa in the country’s Olympic history.
“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. These prestigious awards present yet another platform to inspire more young athletes to represent our country with excellence,” said the Minster.
Van Niekerk is nominated with nine other nominees, including Jamaica’s Olympic champion Usain Bolt. They were selected by an international panel of athletics experts comprising representatives from all six continental areas of the IAAF.
Semenya is nominated among nine other nominees, including US hurdler Kendra Harrison.
Voting closes on 1 November. At the conclusion of the voting process, three men and three women finalists will be announced by the IAAF. The winner will be announced at the IAAF Athletics Awards 2016 in Monaco on 2 December.
Minister Mbalula called on South Africans to use the IAAF social media platforms and website to vote for Semenya and Van Niekerk.
To vote for Semenya, South Africans can log onto Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/WorldAthleticsClub) and like Semenya’s picture. The same can be done for Van Niekerk by liking his picture on the Facebook page.