Amla named SA Sports Star of the Year

PROTEAS top-order batsman Hashim Amla scooped the top accolade at the SA Sports Awards, held for the first time in three years, at Sun City on Sunday night.

The 28-year-old, recently named vice-captain of the national ODI and T20 teams, was recognised ahead of four other nominees for the Sports Star of the Year accolade – Masters golf champion Charl Schwartzel, swimming world record holder Cameron van der Burgh, Springbok sevens flyhalf Cecil Afrika and leading Banyana Banyana goalscorer Noko Matlou.

Amla, the world’s top-ranked ODI batsman, made 1 848 runs in limited overs internationals during the voting period, at an average of 63.72, and scored 1 437 test runs at an average of 65.31, including a career best unbeaten 253 against India in Nagpur in February 2010.

Van der Burgh, meanwhile, beat out Schwartzel, Amla and Afrika to win the Sportsman of the Year accolade.

The 23-year-old breaststroke specialist, who holds the 50m and 100m short course world records, and the 50m long course global mark, picked up medals in both his specialty events at the 2009 World Swimming Championships, the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2010 World Short Course Championships.

Matlou, a former African Women’s Player of the Year, steered South Africa to the bronze medal at the African Women’s Championships last year to bag the Sportswoman of the Year award ahead of fellow nominees Pietie Coetzee, the leading goalscorer in women’s international hockey, and Sunette Viljoen, the African javelin throw record holder.

Former world No 1 golfer Ernie Els, 2011 Fifa World Cup organising committee CEO Danny Jordaan, Premier Soccer League chairman Irvin Khoza, former SA Football Association president Molefi Oliphant and fifth dan karateka Peter Thage received Steve Tshwete lifetime achievement awards.

Els, who was unable to collect his award, gave credit in a recorded message to sports personalities who had played positive roles in South Africa since the return from isolation in 1991, including the Springbok rugby team, the Proteas cricket squad and a handful of his fellow golfers.

“Sport in South Africa has reunited the country in many ways over a long period of time,” Els said.

The Bulls, who won the 2009 Super Rugby and Currie Cup competitions, and defended their Super Rugby title in 2010, were named Team of the Year, and Bulls mentor Frans Ludeke scooped the Coach of the Year accolade.

Swimming sensation Chad le Clos, the 200m butterfly short course world champion, was recognised as the Newcomer of the Year.

Wheelchair tennis players Lucas Sithole and Kgothatso Montjane were respectively named Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year with a

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