Race for annual sports star too tight
There will definitely be gnashing of teeth when the South African Sports Star of the Year award winner is crowned at Pacofs Hall in Mangaung, Free State, on November 11.
That is simply because people have their own preferred choices which are at times driven by emotions.
The rule book stipulates the period under review for the 13th edition of the SA Sports Awards is September 1 2017 and August 31 this year.
The nomination and the ultimate selection for the Sport Star of the Year is the duty of the six-member panel of adjudicators that comprises some of the country's leading sports writers and sportscasters.
The panel has radio and television sports presenters Thabiso Mosia and Mpho Letsholonyane.
The panel nominated 23 names from various codes and was faced with a gigantic headache of whittling the list down to five before it was eventually reduced to the top three.
Those who made it to the final trio are athlete Caster Semenya, cricketer Kagiso Rabada and boxer Hekkie Budler.
Panellists had to each give motivation for their five choices.
The process took a rigorous selection and voting process spanning more than four weeks of deliberating and debating the names of the deserving nominees.
"[After] we were guided by the criteria which states that the athlete must have performed exceptionally abroad and in South Africa, setting world records, while maintaining a strong ethical and discipline element, the panel came up with their potential candidates," explained Mosia.
The original list comprised 23 names, with two high-profile stars falling out of contention, due to the stringent qualification and nomination criteria. "The list was whittled down to five which the panel had to select a top three for the SA Sports Star of the Year. This was gruelling.
"Panellists had to each give motivation for their five choices. Emotions and sentiments had to be put aside and panellists had to stick to the criteria set out by the SA Sports Awards."
The exercise saw Springbok captain Siya Kolisi missing out.
"The argument was that despite his historic achievement as the first black Springbok captain, his performances on the field for both club and country did not surpass those of rising star Aphiwe Dyantyi," said Mosia.
"Dyantyi helped the Lions reach another Super Rugby final while finishing as joint top scorer in the rugby championship in what was his debut internationals season.
"The panel is confident it has selected the best possible top three athletes that fit and meet the requirements for this category."
He said Semenya, Rabada and Budler represent everything that South African sport and sport fans stand for.
"Caster, pictured, has shown maturity beyond her years on and off the track, as she continues to dominate in her space. Kagiso has given hope to many aspiring cricketers, showing amazing consistency to be one of the leading cricketers in the world.
"Hekkie's achievements have gone under their radar but our boxers continue to put the country on the world map despite the challenges."
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