The esteemed Shield of Jove Award for top achievers in the Olympic and Paralympic categories of the Rio 2016 Olympics will be one of the highlights at the 11th annual South African Sport Awards, taking place in Mangaung on 27 November.
The nominees include world class middle distance performer, Caster Semenya who wrote herself into the South African athletics record books when she won no less than three distances – the 400m, 800m and 1500m races at the South African National Championships in April 2016 and 24 year old, Wayde van Niekerk, who reached one of the highest accolades in athletics when he became the 400m world champion at the 2016 Rio Olympics, breaking the legendary Michael Johnson’s long-standing record time. This week he was named male athlete of the Olympic Games in the Association of National Olympic Committee’s awards which were held in Doha.
Also in line are Paralympians Zanele Situ – veteran para-sport athlete and multiple gold medal winner; talented sprinter Ilse Hayes – winner of two silver medals in the 100m and 200m T13 events in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio; Dyan Buis – the reigning Paralympic 400 m record holder and Charl du Toit – the 23 year old paralympian who became Team South Africa’s first double medallist of the Rio Paralympics with his 100 and 400m sprint.
Minister of Sport and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula says the Shield of Jove brings an added excitement to the proceedings. “These awards are a highlight of the sporting calendar and one of our proudest moments as South Africans, so when we also have the honour of presenting the Shield of Jove Award it is indeed a special occasion.”
The Shield was first donated to the South African Government by Frederick Mitchell-Hedges, a British archaeologist involved in mining in South Africa at the time, to honour the performances of South Africans at the Olympic Games. It was valued at around R40 000 at the time. Today it’s valued at R500 000 and highly protected due to its significant monetary value and the unique artistry of the design.
George Hunter was the very first recipient after winning a gold medal for boxing at the London 1948 Olympics. Other athletes who have been awarded the Shield of Jove include Joan Harrison and Ester Brand (swimming and athletics, 1952), Jimmy Swift (cycling, 1956), Daniel Wepener Bekker (boxing, 1960), Zola Budd (athletics, 1984), Josiah Thugwane and Penny Heyns (athletics and swimming, 1996) and Natalie du Toit and Chad le Clos (swimming, 2012).
The SA Sport Awards, held in conjunction with SASCOC, honour exceptional performances between 1 September 2015 and 30 September 2016, in 18 categories. The theme of this year is “Impossible is not a fact. It is an opinion. Impossible is nothing. #IzinjazeGame” which Mbalula says is a tribute particularly to the accomplishments of our Olympic athletes.
“The competition is always tough in an Olympic year so we’re very excited to get the 11th annual awards ceremony underway and announce the winners. I’d like to congratulate all the nominees and wish them luck. Thank you for keeping sport alive in the hearts of all South Africans and for making your country proud,” Mbalula concluded.