Olympic Games athletes Ruswahl Samaai and Lynique Prinsloo were named sports stars of the year at the University of Johannesburg’s awards gala dinner at the Johannesburg Country Club on Thursday night.
Both student-athletes compete in the track and field discipline of long jump and made their mark in South African athletics this year to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
Samaai was voted Sportsman of the Year after finishing ninth in Rio in August with a leap of 7.97 metres, despite competing in the final with a hamstring injury.
The 25-year-old started the year with a bang when he set a national record of 8.18m at the World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon, in the United States in March.
The former Paarl Gymnasium pupil, who is studying transport management, took his form into the national championships at Stellenbosch in early April to win gold with an impressive jump of 8.34m.
He also collected victories in the Varsity Athletics competition in March, the University Sport South Africa (Ussa) champs in Polokwane in April and the African Championships in Durban in June, where he recorded a distance of 8.41m.
Prinsloo, who grew up in Springs but now commutes between Pretoria and Johannesburg, was named Sportswoman of the Year after a string of successes, including a gold-medal performance at the SA champs.
The 25-year-old education student, who placed 33rd in Rio after jumping 6.10m, also dominated the Varsity Athletics events and secured titles at the Ussa champs and the Central Gauteng Athletics meeting in Germiston.
Rio Paralympics long jumper Andrea Dalle Ave, who was recently named Gauteng Sports Personality of the Year, was the runner-up in the men’s category.
He also won a Grand Prix meeting in Germany and came first in the Central Gauteng Athletics meeting for able-bodied persons.
The runner-up spot in the women’s category went to Olympian Anel Oosthuizen, who placed 63rd in Rio in the 20km walk and fourth at the African Championships.
Third places went to squash stars Kyle Maree and Alexia Pienaar, who helped UJ win the Ussa tournament for the fifth year in a row in July.
The top student-athlete award, which takes the candidate’s academic record into account, went to Maree, who obtained a 73 per cent average.
Oosthuizen was awarded second place in this category for her race walking prowess combined with her academic achievement of 74.16 per cent.
Third place was shared by rugby player Wian Conradie (76.8%) and Pienaar (72.29%).