Two Olympic medallists, South Africa’s most capped athlete, its most celebrated Paralympian, and a Pole Fitness Champion have made the cut for the 2012 SPAR gsport Awards, after more than 100 nominations were received across the various categories in a month-long public nominations process.
“The list of nominees is unbelievable. I am really excited to see who’s going to win,” said Belinda Nel, SPAR Sponsorship Manager. “It will be really difficult to choose because athletes from different fields have done very well. The nominees are very strong across the board.”
gsport4girls Founder, Kass Naidoo, was equally impressed, “The decision to appoint top-quality Ambassadors to drive the search for public nominations has been vindicated by the quality of the nominees forwarded to gsport.
“With free public voting due to start at the gsport website on Wednesday, friends, fans and family of the 2012 SPAR gsport Awards finalists are urged to organise wide support for their candidates, to give them every chance of being honoured this year.”
The list was trimmed to top three nominees per category by the Awards judges, world leader in Visual Performance Dr. Sherylle Calder, veteran sports journalist Jane Bramley, eighties netball phenomenon Hazel Gumede and businesswoman and socialite Uyanda Mbuli.
Olympic silver medallist Caster Semenya, bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley and South Africa’s most capped athlete Marsha Marescia headline the SPAR Athlete of the Year category, which was heavily contested with 10 athletes up for nomination.
Fittingly, as if in deference to her unrivalled contribution to awareness of sport with disability, Natalie du Toit – who recently announced her retirement from competition after another clutch of Paralympic haul of medals at London 2012, is the only individual nominated in two categories.
She is up for the gsport Woman of the Year title along with Pole Fitness Champion Venessa Clack and 70-year-old Sue Pather, who has dedicated her time to promotion of women’s cricket.
Du Toit is also nominated for Athlete of the Year with a Disability, along with SA’s number-one wheelchair tennis player, Kgothatso Montjane, and Paralympic gold and silver medalling track and field athlete, Ilse Carstens.
Rising stars, track athlete Thato Makhafola, KwaZulu-Natal cyclist Lauren Varty and chess champion, Tasnim Amra, will contest the Up and Coming Athlete of the Year category.
Woman in Media was another hotly contested category, with 12 women nominated for the award. Radio cricket commentator Natalie Germanos, football anchor Carol Tshabalala and rugby writer Tarryn Steenekamp got the nod from judge Jane Bramley.
South Africa’s women’s national teams have done well in improving their international statuses in 2012, and this is evident in the gsport Coach of the Year category, where SPAR Proteas netball coach Elize Kotze faces stern competition in two other national coaches, Proteas cricket coach Yashin Ebrahim and Banyana Banyana coach, Joseph Mkhonza.
Top Billing presenter and Audi Ambassador, Jo-Ann Strauss, V Entertainment host Lalla Hirayama, and award-winning R&B singer LeAnne Dlamini have been shortlisted for gsport Style Star of the Year, which recognises women who exude style, elegance, and beauty, whatever they do.
The gsport Volunteer of the Year category will be contested by football administrator Faiek Cassiem, all round sports enthusiast Anela Mahamba and Cycling volunteer Anelda Swart. The gsport Volunteer of the Year is the only category that is not open to public voting. The judges will pick the winner.
A final word in thanks to the 2012 SPAR gsport Award Ambassadors, Roxy Burger, Mpho Maboi, Anele Mdoda, Shashi Naidoo, Hulisani Ravele and Liezel van der Westhuizen, for driving the nominations.
2012 SPAR gsport Awards Finalists: SPAR Athlete of the Year: Bridgitte Hartley Marsha Marescia Caster Semenya Athlete of the Year with Disability: Ilse Hayes (Carstens) Natalie du Toit Kgothatso Montjane Up and Coming Athlete of the Year: Tasnim Amra Thato Makhafola Lauren Varty Coach of the Year: Elize Kotze Yashin Ebrahim Joseph Mkhonza Woman in Media: Natalie Germanos Tarryn Steenekamp Carol Tshabalala Style Star of the Year: LeAnne Dlamini Lalla Hirayama Jo-Ann Strauss Woman of the Year: Venessa Clack Natalie du Toit Sue Pather Volunteer of the Year: Anela Mahamba Faiek Cassiem Anelda Swart