Boxer Uutoni Again Sportsman of the Year

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Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek Namibia’s Commonwealth gold medalist, Japhet Uutoni, retained his crown as the Mobile Telecommunication Limited (MTC) Sportsman of the Year. The rising boxing star won the award for the second consecutive year at the annual Namibia Sports Commission awards held in the capital on Friday night. Uutoni beat off strong competition from Friedhelm Sack (shooting) and Robert Honiball (gymnastics) to claim the most prestigious individual award in the Namibian sporting world. Uutoni, who was the only Namibian gold medalist at the 2006 Commonwealth, had an outstanding year especially with his brilliant and courageous display early this year in Australia. Despite injuring his hand during a training camp in Botswana in preparation for the Games, he refused to quit and fought through the pain barrier in Australia. His determination and pride saw him put in some great performances as he beat boxers from Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland to reach the final. Another emerging talent, Helaria Johannes, scooped the Sportswoman of Year award following a successful year. The long-distance runner emerged as the top road-runner in Southern Africa after some brilliant performances this year. In April, Johannes ran an outstanding race to win the women’s 21km event at the Old Mutual Two Oceans marathon in Cape Town in a new record time of 73 minutes and 35 seconds. In the process, she beat the Commonwealth Games marathon winner, Kerry McCann of Australia, into second place. Johannes took the Sportswoman of the Year title, beating Heletje van Standen in cycling, Dannielle van Zyl in swimming and Hannelie Coetzee in endurance riding. The event, attended by the Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, John Mutorwa, and his deputy, Pohamba Shifeta, saw pugilist Paulus ” The Hitman” Moses taking home the Sports Achiever of the Year award. Moses won the World Boxing Association (WBA) Intercontinental Lightweight title after a unanimous points victory over Mihaita Mutui of France. In 2005, Paulus won the WBA Pan-African Lightweight belt after beating South African opponent, Joni Simphiwe, in a sixth-round knockout. The Junior Sportsman of the Year title went to Francious Marais (archery), nailing teammate Henk von Blerk, Terry Butcher (hockey), Chris Orffer (angling) and seven-year-old Matthew Nederlof (motocross). Marais capped a great year by winning a gold medal in his age group category at the World Field Archery Championships in Australia in June. In March, Marais won a silver medal in the individual competition at the South African Field Archery Championships and another silver medal in the team competition at the same event. The Junior Sportswoman of the Year title went to tennis player, Suzelle Davin. The 18-year -old Davin is the country’s top junior and senior female tennis player. This year she represented Namibia at the African Junior Championships in Egypt, where she lost in the semi-finals and ended as the third ranked player in Africa. She outshone namesake Sizelle Pronk (karate), Neletje van Staden (cycling), Ramona Beukes (gymnastics) and Leandri Lucas (soccer), to name but a few. The Most Improved Sportsperson of the Year award went to cyclist Petrus Lotto, who in 2006 developed from one of Namibia’s top local juniors to an elite Namibian cyclist with international exposure and experience. As part of the Namibia Cycling Federation’s development programme, he was sent on a six-month training course to the African Continental Training Centre in Potchefstroom, South Africa. The Coach/Trainer of the Year award went to cycling trainer, Hella Rust, who has dedicated herself to the development of cycling in Namibia. The Best Disabled Athlete title went to Martin Alosius, who won three gold medals at the SADC Zone Six Youth Games in July in 100m, 200m and 400m events. In April he competed at the South Africa Physically Disabled Championships in Bloemfontein where he again won the 100m, 200m and 400m events in his category. The Best Administrator title was scooped by Siggi Bassingthwaighte (cycling). For the past year, Bassingthwaighte has devoted herself to the development of cycling in Namibia. What started as support for her children when they started cycling, has grown into a full-time commitment at the Namibia Cycling Federation (NCF) level. The Best Development Programme went to cycling. The NCF has established development structures from pre-school level to elite high performance level, and Namibian cyclists have excelled at all levels. The Best Senior Team title went to shooting which competed against boxing, men’s cycling, women’s hockey, women’s soccer. women’s fistball, men’s inline hockey, men’s freshwater bank angling and endurance riding. The Best Junior Team title went to boxing beating gymnastics, endurance junior team and cricket, while the Best Referee/Umpire title was clinched by Valereis Geldenhuys (gymnastics). She out-classed Johan Tredoux (rugby), Bettine Steffen (swimming), Roumiana Kostin (gymnastics) and Vesselin Kostin (also gymnastics). MTC Namibia, the main sponsor of the lucrative award ceremony, gave a generous sponsorship of N$250ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000. – Nampa