JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 18. IN a year that drew criticism both at home and abroad, Swimming South Africa bucked the odds to earn the country’s Federation of the Year honor.
The federation was plagued with troubles for most of 2013, including a dirty pool that delayed the start of the world championship trials. Before that, the governing body went under fire for announcing that travel expenses to the world championships would be fully paid for just a few athletes. Despite the three gold medals won by Cameron van der Burgh and Chad Le Clos in Barcelona, global news put a focus on the battle with Gerhard Zandberg, who did not get approval to change rooms at worlds and was given a suspension. Zandberg announced his retirement this fall based on the outcome of a ruling that did not overturn his suspension.
Swimming South Africa President Jace Naidoo defended his federation’s actions in an interview with EWN Sport, saying “I think overall if you look at the whole range of all the things we have done and some of the challenges we had to overcome of the last few years, I think swimming has done exceptionally well.”
For winning gold in the 50 breaststroke and getting silver in the 100 breast at worlds, van der Burgh received the Sportsman of the Year award over rugby player Itumeleng Khune and cricket player Hashim Amla.
Double worlds gold medalist Le Clos was nominated in the Sports Star of the Year category, but lost to Khune. Other nominees in the category included Amla, US Open wheelchair tennis champion Lucas Sithole and athletics star Mapaseka Makhanya. Kune won 1 million Rand and a new BMW with the award and has said half of his winnings will be donated to his elementary school.
South Africa’s national swimming head coach Graham Hill lost out on the Coach of the Year award, which went to Sithole’s coach Helger Losch. Another swimming nominee yesterday was Giulio Zorzi, who won bronze in the 50 breast in Barcelona and was up for the Newcomer of the Year award. Wheelchair tennis player Thato Tsomole received that award.