ALL is set for tonight’s Annual National Sports Awards function to be held at the Rainbow Towers with golfer Brendon de Jonge strongly tipped to be crowned the Sportsperson of the Year after recordinghis best season on the USPGA Tour.The annual awards are designed to recognise and celebrate sporting excellence among the top performing athletes and officials each year.
De Jonge is also tipped to win the Sportsman of the Year award in a category that also includes Olympians Cutbert Nyasango and Wirimai Juwawo, Stephen Muzhingi, track and field athlete Paul Madzivire and chess player Rodwell Makoto.
But it has been a quiet year for most Zimbabwean athletes and De Jonge, who stood his ground against some of the world’s best golfers on the world tour, stands a good chance of scooping the Sportsperson of the Year award as most of the athletes do not have much to show.
The former Virginia Tech College student has improved immensely since turning professional in 2003 and has managed to reach his overall best performance this year to scoop the sixth best player on the African continent in recent rankings.De Jong, who hit his first top 100 this season, still lies on position 83 in the world rankings. He also had a great season that saw him having four Top 10 finishes in the USPGA.
Standing in De Jonge’s is long-distance runner Nyasango, who finished a credible seventh in the men’s marathon in his debut appearance at this year’s London Olympic Games in August, as well as Juwawo, who came 15th , in the same race.
Nyasango wrote his own piece of history by becoming the first Zimbabwean long-distance runner to finish way inside the Top 10 at the Olympics.Track and field athlete Madzivire is also in the running for the same award as well as former Comrades Marathon winner Muzhingi. Makoto (chess) completes the nominees for the Sportsman of the Year award.
The Sportswoman of the year award will see reigning Sportsperson of the Year Kirsty Coventry grappling for the top prize with rower Micheen Thornycroft.Thornycroft made her first appearance at the Olympics this year where she was one of the few African rowers to compete. She, however, could not bring a medal home as she could only go as far as the quarter-finals in the single sculls event.
Three female long-distance runners — Olympian Sharon Tavengwa, Tabitha Tsatsa and Faith Nyasango — are also vying for the same award.Wheelchair tennis ace Nyasha Mharakurwa will be vying for the Sportsman of the Year with a Disability award. Mharakurwa competed at the Paralympic Games for the first time in London this year and lost in the second round.
The Sports Commission have this year added another category to the ANSA awards — the Woman and Sport award. The award will be in recognition of a woman who would have championed the cause of sport beyond any measure of doubt.The Sports Commission’s corporate communications officer, Tirivashe Nheweyembwa, said they have also maintained the Special Acknowledgement Award.
“The difference for this year’s event is that we are bringing in a foreign guest of honour.“We have a new award — Woman and Sport Award. We have also maintained a SpecialAcknowledgement Award to those from the corporate world that would have contributed to the development of sport in this country. This will also encourage others to come on board,” said Nheweyembwa.
The Sports Commission also broke with tradition this year when they increased the number of the nominees by shortlisting an average of five athletes per category for the awards.In the past 14 years the ANSA judges panel had been shortlisting three people per category.
2012 Ansa nominees
Junior Sportswoman of the Year
Taryn Rennie (swimming), Laurelle Brown (triathlon), Skye Davidson (triathlon), Tyla-Shae Donaldson (BMX), Jordane Tahla Swarres (karate), Wendy Mulenga (athletics).
Junior Sportsman of the Year
Drew Williams (triathlon), Dumisani Bhebhe (athletics), Nicholas Burnett (swimming), Brendan Manson (BMX), James Fraser Mackenzie (rowing), Tristan Oliver Grainger (motor sports).Junior Sportswoman of the year with a Disability
Gary Vundla (wheelchair tennis), Vitamia Mutora (intellectually challenged athletics), Panashe Kabwabwa (visually impaired athletics), Loreen Marire, (amputees athletics), Tendai Chibwe (amputees athletics), Laina Sithole, (visually impaired athletics).
Junior Sportsman of the Year with a DisabilityDaniel Buleya (wheelchair tennis), Brian Mafuvise (wheelchair tennis), Shepherd Banga (wheelchair tennis), Veren Mehta (intellectually challenged golf).
Sportswoman of the Year
Tabitha Tsatsa (athletics), Sharon Tavengwa (athletics), Kirsty Coventry (swimming), Faith Nyasango (athletics), Micheen Thornycroft (rowing).
Sportsman of the Year
Paul Madzivire (athletics), Steven Muzhingi (athletics), Wirimai Juwawo (athletics), Rodwell Makoto (chess), Cuthbert Nyasango (athletics), Brendon De Jonge (golf).
Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability
Margret Bangajena (wheelchair racing), Dorcas Hwatira (wheelchair racing), Magadaline Madzivire (wheelchair racing), Moline Majoni (wheelchair racing), Memory Musariri (intellectually challenged golf).
Sportsman of the Year (Disability)
Edmund Makutya (wheelchair racing), Elford Moyo (wheelchair racing), Nyasha Mharakurwa (wheelchair tennis), Alexander Mkandla (wheelchair racing), Wilson Nyakoko (wheelchair racing).
Team of the Year
Zimbabwe Cricket National Team, Zimbabwe Rugby Sevens, Rugby National Team, Zimbabwe Ladies Golf team (A), Zimbabwe Ladies Golf team (B team).
Coach of the Year
Bensen Chauke (athletics), Gilbert Nyamutsamba (rugby sevens national team), Brandon Dawson (rugby sables), Catherine Ann Riley (ladies golf), Rachel Davis (rowing).
Technical official of the Year
Forbes Shuva (basketball), Ralph Stead (motor sports), Norman Mutemera (football), Ruzive Ruzive (football), Rick Fulton (triathlon).
Sports administration of the Year
National Darts Association of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Ladies Golf Union, Zimbabwe Rugby Union, Horse Society of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Shooting Sport Federation.
Sport Development of the Year
Zimbabwe Shooting Sports Federation, National BMX Association of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Rugby Union, Zimbabwe Handball Federation, Zimbabwe Volleyball Association.
Woman in Sport Award
Ginny Ross (hockey), Nelia Musikavanhu (football), Fungai Zinatsa (table tennis), Leticia Chipandu (netball).
Special Acknowledgement: Harare Province (PLAN International), Manicaland Province (Matan Holdings).