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President’s Voice ÔÇô Gideon Sam

Today we launched the nominees for the 2013 edition of the South African Sports Awards.

No doubt the panel of judges must have had a torrid time arriving at the nominees announced this morning. The category of Sports Star of the Year brought to the fore the number of top performers who on any day can walk away with this sought-after award.

No doubt some will ask why is so-and-so not on the final list. But the panel did their best and the nominees are out there, so let us see who emerges on top.

On 17 November, the SA public would have spoken when we announce the Sport Star for 2013 out of the five nominees revealed today.

Meanwhile I continued my visits to areas where sportspeople continue to gather to talk about sport or play sport. In East London, the provincial sports federations gathered to prepare for the upcoming elections in November.

The constitution was being revamped to ensure no areas of it are ambiguous come election time. The participation of the provincial federations, metro’s and district municipalities was encouraging.

On the road I received a number of requests for assistance with funding for sport at grassroots level. This matter will have to be tackled sooner rather than later. The road to becoming a top star begins right down at grassroots level. The life blood of all sport is at the lowest development level and we will be shooting ourselves in the foot if continue to neglect this important area of our sport development.

Measures are being taken by the SRSA to address this matter with Treasury, but the funding may come too late for some athletes who need money like yesterday.

Unfortunately for our National Federations things may become more challenging with the Liquor Advertising Bill charging our way like a run-away train. Somebody must hear the cry of sport for a better funding model.

However, given all the obstacles in their way our stars continue to shine. Ernst van Dyk has had a really good year on the road with medals galore, his latest being an exciting win in the Chicago Marathon in the United States. Excellent stuff.

And in Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos this country still possesses two of the world’s very best swimmers, Well done on your medals in Moscow, and lets not forget the up and coming Myles Brown who also won gold.

Our young gymnasts gave a good account of themselves at the recent World Artistic Championships and Belgium and Kirsten Beckett in particular looks a strong contender for a place on Team SA at next year’s Commonwealth Games in Scotland.

And lets also not forget another bit of well-earned recognition for our Paralympic legend, Natalie du Toit, who was recently awarded an honorary MBE (Member of the British Empire).

Recognition richly deserved!


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