It started with an email just after I arrived home to South Africa after completing my European cycling season in Europe. I had been nominated for SPAR gsport Athlete of the Year.

I knew winning my Commonwealth medal in Glasgow had brought some attention to women’s cycling in South Africa, but I didn’t know it had caught the eye of any awards committee.

The 2014 season was not an easy one for me, it was emotionally challenging with more lows and missed goals than I’ve ever had to deal with before, so that email got me thinking.

Like any event, I was excited about the opportunity but I didn’t get my hopes up. Bridgitte Hartley, the 2014 World Canoe Sprint Championship bronze medalist and national netball captain Maryka Holtzhausen had also been nominated, both amazing athletes with their own inspirational stories of triumph deserving of the accolade.

With all the other award categories, the celebration had brought together a sea of hard-working and high-achieving women from all sporting codes, including those from behind the scenes, like the fabulous Kass Naidoo herself.

My category was one of the last ones and as it approached, I realised I was a bit nervous.

On what the distinction means to her, Moolman-Pasio said: “I feel very blessed to have won the 2014 SPAR gsport Athlete of the Year Award, and I hope that by winning I have inspired others to find their passion in life and pursue it, past the obstacles and through the hard times.”. Photo: gsportWhen it was finally time, I couldn’t believe they called my name! From the time they announced my name until I got on the stage, it felt like a lifetime as I navigated my way to the stage.

I made it to the podium and then, looking out into the sea of faces, I realised it was time to make a speech.

I hadn’t prepared anything specific to say so I started by thanking everyone. As I found my voice, however, I took the opportunity to let everyone know that, although performing on the bike is important to me, it’s actually the impact that I can have on other people’s lives through sharing my experiences that inspires me the most.

I feel very blessed to have won the 2014 SPAR gsport Athlete of the Year Award, and I hope that by winning I have inspired others to find their passion in life and pursue it, past the obstacles and through the hard times.

I was humbled to win that morning, but I was humbled again when I really realized why I had been selected. Being 2014 SPAR gsport Athlete of the Year wasn’t just about what results I had achieved, I think it was also about how I had achieved them. The award is proof that passion is productive.

The 2014 SPAR gsport Awards was my first women’s only awards ceremony and what made it so incredibly special was the fact that it provided a great opportunity for us, as female sports professionals to come together to celebrate each other’s achievements and to interact with one another.

Kass Naidoo and her team at gsport do an incredible job of promoting women in sport; and I wish them, and all the 2015 gsport nominees all the best for this year’s awards ceremony.

 

Photo 1 caption: Recalling the moment she was called up to be unveiled as the 2014 SPAR gsport Athlete of the Year, international cycling star Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio says: “Being 2014 SPAR gsport Athlete of the Year wasn’t just about what results I had achieved, I think it was also about how I had achieved them”. Photo: Supplied

Photo 2 caption: On what the distinction means to her, Moolman-Pasio said: “I feel very blessed to have won the 2014 SPAR gsport Athlete of the Year Award, and I hope that by winning I have inspired others to find their passion in life and pursue it, past the obstacles and through the hard times.”. Photo: gsport