One of South Africa’s greatest-ever Comrades Marathon runners, Frith van der Merwe, has been inducted into the gsport Hall of Fame, nearly 25 years after shattering the down run record to win the 1989 women’s race and finish 15th overall in a strong field of contenders.
Van der Merwe, a schoolteacher from Benoni, received her award from 2012 gsport Hall of Fame winner, Ntambi Ravele, at the 2013 SPAR gsport Awards held at the prestigious Wanderers Club on Wednesday morning.
The event celebrated the best of South African women’s sport, with road running sensation Mapaseka Makhanya walking away with the coveted SPAR gsport Athlete of the Year award.
South Africa’s number-one women’s wheelchair tennis player, Kgothatso Montjane, won the gsport Athlete of the Year with Disability award, while junior swimming sensation Nathania van Niekerk was named as gsport’s Up and Coming Athlete of the Year.
National diving coach, Dominique Philippopoulos, won gsport Coach of the Year, while renowned international rugby referee Marlize Jordaan fought off strong competition from SAFA Technical Director Fran Hilton-Smith and Netball South Africa President Mimi Mthethwa, to win the gsport Woman of the Year award.
Other awards presented this morning included gsport Woman in Media, won by Lesedi FM sports commentator, Dikeledi Makhongoana, and the very popular Style Star of the Year, won by Soccerzone Presenter, Minnie Dlamini.
Gaming coach and community hero Morizane Boyes walked away with the gsport Volunteer of the Year award, while the WPGA of South Africa was honoured as the Federation of the Year, after launching the country’s first ever women’s pro tour, the Sunshine Ladies Tour.
The Sponsor of the Year award was won by Momentum South Africa, for its passionate support of women’s cricket, which resulted a historic moment when Cricket South Africa awarded its first-ever national contracts to six Proteas women’s cricketers.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula received the inaugural gsport Special Recognition Award for his tireless efforts to raise the profile of women’s sport in South Africa. The country’s first ever black Springbok female athlete, Blanche Moila, accepted the award on the Minister’s behalf.
The cream of South Africa’s women’s sports community came out in support of the 2013 SPAR gsport Awards which was supported by leading brands, SPAR, SilvaSale, Worldwide Sports, Monster Productions and Events, Crystal Concepts, HRG Rennies Travel, 2000FM, SuperSport, Big Five Duty Free and Estée Lauder.
For more information on the SPAR gsport Awards, follow @gsport4girls on Facebook and Twitter or check out gsport.co.za. The official event hashtag is #SPARgsportAwards.
Full list of 2013 SPAR gsport Awards Winners: Awards Category: Award Winner Volunteer of the Year: Morizane Boyes Sports Federation of the Year: WPGA of South Africa Sponsor of the Year: Momentum South Africa gsport Special Recognition Award: Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula gsport Hall of Fame Award: Frith van der Merwe gsport Style Star Award: Minnie Dlamini gsport Woman in Media Award: Dikeledi Makhongoana gsport Woman of the Year: Marlize Jordaan gsport Coach of the Year: Dominique Philippopoulos gsport Up and Coming Athlete of the Year: Nathania van Niekerk gsport Athlete with Disability Award: KG Montjane SPAR gsport Athlete of the Year: Mapaseka Makhanya
Picture caption: In 1989 Frith van der Merwe stole the show, breaking the Comrades Marathon in record style to kickstart a new respect for women’s long-distance running in South Africa. On Wednesday Van der Merwe was inducted into the gsport Hall of Fame, and stole the show at an intimate but high-impact Awards Awards ceremony in Johannesburg on Monday. Also honoured were Volunteer of the Year, Morizane Boyes, Sports Federation of the Year, WPGA of South Africa, Sponsor of the Year, Momentum South Africa, gsport Special Recognition Award, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, gsport Hall of Fame Award, Frith van der Merwe, gsport Style Star Award, Minnie Dlamini, gsport Woman in Media Award, Dikeledi Makhongoana, gsport Woman of the Year, Marlize Jordaan, gsport Coach of the Year, Dominique Philippopoulos, gsport Up and Coming Athlete of the Year, Nathania van Niekerk, gsport Athlete with Disability Award, KG Montjane, SPAR gsport Athlete of the Year, Mapaseka Makhanya. Photo: With kind permission of the Comrades Marathon Museum