MARATHON man Lusapho April was rewarded for his outstanding achievement in the past year when he was named the Sports Star of the Year at the Eastern Cape Premier’s Sport and Recreation Achievers Awards held at the Boardwalk Convention Centre on Friday night.
Addo-born April beat strong challenges from swimmer Kevin Paul and gymnast Bianca Zoonekynd to grab the main prize on offer.
The 31-year-old also won the Sportsman of the Year title, while Zoonekynd snapped up the women’s equivalent.
Herald freelance soccer writer Mogan Segadavan, who has covered the sport tirelessly for almost 40 years, won the Journalist of the Year award.
April’s mentor for 15 years, Karen Zimmerman, who won Coach of the Year, was there to share his success with him.
“It’s great to finally be recognised and that here on my home turf too,” April said.
“I must thank my coach Karen Zimmerman for the part she has played in my career as well as my training partner Mariano Eessou.
“I could not make it to last year’s awards so I’m glad my training schedule allowed for me to be here this time around.”
His next major event is the World Half-marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, on March 29. He will then take on the best at the Boston Marathon three weeks later. Here he will be looking to go two better than the impressive third he attained in the New York Marathon in November.
April joined the league of elite runners in the world, which includes Dennis Kimetto, Meb Keflezighi, Moses Mosop and Wilson Chebet. This means the Uitenhage runner is now a member of the John Hancock Elite Athlete team of 46 runners from 13 countries.
April qualified to be part of the star-studded team after winning the prestigious Hanover Marathon in Germany in May last year in a career-best time of 2hrs 8min 32 secs. He is also a two-time winner of the Two Oceans marathon.
“I want to start doing more high-profile marathons in the world to gain experience.
“The bigger picture for me is the 2016 Olympics where I want to come back with a medal. That’s what my coach and I are working towards.”
The category winners were:
Excellence Class of 2013: Thabo Sonjica (Exceptional Merit Achievement in pro boxing), Simphiwe Vetyeka (Exceptional Merit Achievement in pro boxing), Mandisa Williams (Exceptional Merit Achievement in women’s rugby), Zenay Jordaan (Exceptional Merit Achievement in women’s rugby)
School team of the year: Lingelihle Senior Secondary
Sport team of the year, disability: ECSA II table tennis
Sport team of the year: EC Amateur Boxing Organisation
Federation of the year: EC Handball
Journalist of the year: Mogan Segadavan (The Herald)
Presenter of the year: Sithembiso Mgqezana
Sportswoman of the year, golden age: Machile Maholoto
Sportsman of the year, golden age: Henry Botha
Indigenous Games star of the year: Ntom- bikayise Dunjwa
Technical official of the year: Shaun George
Coach of the year: Karen Zimmerman
Administrator of the year: Chris Nenzani
Sportswoman of the year, disability: Siphe Dlinga
Sportsman of the year, disability: Kevin Paul
Sportswoman of the year: Bianca Zoonekynd (gymnastics)
Sportsman of the year: Lusapho April
Sport star of the year: Lusapho April