The Herald (Harare)

14 December 2012

Zimbabwe: De Jonge Is Numero Uno

BRENDON de Jonge did not win his breakthrough US PGA tour event this season but, after a strong performance that won him rave reviews and more than US$2 million in prize money, he was last night named Zimbabwe's Sportsperson of the Year.

Rugby dominated the awards night by providing the Team of the Year, Coach of the Year and walking away with the award for providing the best administration.

But, as largely expected, there was nothing for football and only one member of the family, referee Norman Matemera, was rewarded with third place, in the technical officials' category, in what is another indictment on the national game.

Zimbabwe Cricket, who have routinely won awards for the best administration, missed out this time although, having grown themselves into the second biggest sporting discipline in the country, they should be disappointed they were not rewarded for their development efforts.

No sporting discipline in this country invests in its development structures better than Zimbabwe Cricket and having pumped a fortune to keep their game, in the grassroots alive, they will be disappointed that it escaped the attention of those who handed out the gongs.

It was double victory for the burly golfer, who grew up in Harare but is now resident in the United States where he plays on the US PGA Tour, as he was also named Zimbabwe's Sportsman of the Year.

De Jonge represents Zimbabwe at international golf events and, after a solid year in which he competed very well against the world's best golfers, he dominated the show at the Annual National Sports Awards function at the Rainbow Towers in Harare.

The 32-year-old golfer enjoyed his best season, on the tough US PGA Tour, and takes over from swimming sensation, Kirsty Coventry, who won the Sportsperson of the Year award last year.

Dubbed the next great golfer from a country that has produced superstars like Hall of Fame inductee, Nick Price, Mark McNulty and Tony Johnstone, De Jonge competed regularly against the likes of world number one, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, and made a big impression.

His best shot came at Justine Timberlake's Shrinners Hospital for Children tournament where he second in September.

He went on to compete in the CIMB Classic and was tied on fourth position with Woods in October.

The former Virginia Tech College student has been improving since turning professional in 2003 and has managed his overall best performance this year to rise to the sixth-best player on the African continent in recent rankings.

De Jonge also hit his first top 100 this season and lies on position 83 in the world rankings.

He had a great season that saw him having five top 10 finishes in 2012, including three consecutive top five finishes.

De Jonge beat Olympian Cutbert Nyasango into second position to win the Sportsman of the Year award.

Rodwell Makoto (chess) walked away with a bronze medal in the same category.

Swimming icon Coventry was crowned the Sportswoman of the Year ahead of rower Micheen Thornycroft and long-distance runner Sharon Tavengwa.

Coventry grabbed two gold medals at the AGS Speedo Sectionals USA in March before winning gold and two silver medals at the Brazil Swimming Championships in June. She went on to win two gold medals and one silver at the Paris Open Swimming Championships in July.

However, Coventry found the going tough at the 2012 London Olympic Games as she only managed to finish sixth in the backstroke final.

Young rower James Fraser Mackenzie walked away with the Junior Sportsperson and Junior Sportsman of the Year awards.

The 19-year-old came second in the Alexandria Olympic Qualification Regatta held in Egypt in November last year. He came first in the Wallingford International Regatta in the men's single sculls at Eton Dorney in UK before coming first and second in the quadruple sculls.

Mackenzie went on to compete in the Henley Royal Regatta in UK and finished on top in the men's intermediate open quadruple sculls and he came 30th out of 34 competitors in the finals of the men's single sculls in the London Olympics.

He was the youngest competitor at the event.

Top wheelchair tennis player Nyasha Mharakurwa was not to be outdone as he won the Sportsman of the Year (Disability).

Mharakurwa took part in the South African Open and won a bronze medal in June.

He made his debut appearance at the London Paralympic Games and was knocked out in the second round by the world number two in September.

With the individual awards featuring athletes from various sporting disciplines, it was rugby that came out the dominant sporting discipline in terms of achievements with Rugby Sevens national team coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba being crowned Coach of the Year.

Nyamutsamba helped the Sevens national team win the Confederation of Africa Rugby Sevens in Morocco and they qualified for the World Cup in Moscow next year.

Rachel Davis of rowing was second and Catherine Ann Riley was third.

Zimbabwe Rugby Sevens walked away with the Team of the Year award.

They won the SPAR International Sevens tournament in March.

They went on to win the Confederation of Africa Rugby Sevens in Morocco and also qualified for the Rugby World Cup in Moscow 2013 in September.

They took part in the Middleburg Sevens tournament in South Africa and lost in the semi-finals in the same month.

The national rugby team, the Sables, settled for second position having won the Africa Cup in Jemmel, Tunisia. in July.

In September they were ranked third in Africa and 29th in the World.

Zimbabwe Ladies gold team (Team A) were third in the race.

The Sports administration award went to Zimbabwe Rugby Union.

Awards

Sportsperson of the Year: Brendon De Jonge

Junior Sportsperson of the Year: James Fraser Mackenzie

Sportsman of the Year: 1. Brendon De Jonge (golf), 2. Cutbert Nyasango (athletics), 3. Rodwell Makoto (chess).

Sportswoman of the Year: 1. Kirsty Coventry (swimming), 2. Micheen Thornycroft (rowing), 3. Sharon Tavengwa (athletics).

Sportsman of the Year (disability): 1. Nyasha Mharakurwa (wheelchair tennis), 2. Edmund Makutya (wheelchair racing), 3. Elford Moyo (wheelchair racing).

Sportswoman of the Year (Disability): 1. Margret Bangajena (wheelchair racing), 2. Magadaline Madzivire (wheelchair racing), 3. Dorcas Hwatira (wheelchair racing).

Junior Sportsman of the Year: 1. James Fraser Mackenzie (rowing), 2. Dumisani Bhebhe (athletics), 3. Nicholas Burnett (swimming).

Junior Sportswoman of the Year: 1. Laurelle Brown (triathlon), 2. Skye Davidson (triathlon), 3. Tyla-Shae Donaldson (BMX)

Junior Sportsman of the Year with a disability: 1. Shepherd Banga (wheelchair tennis), 2. Munyaradzi Musariri (intellectually challenged golf), 3. Veren Mehta (intellectually challenged golf).

Junior Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability: 1. Gary Vundla (wheelchair tennis), 2. Panashe Kabwabwa (visually impaired athletics), 3. Laina Sithole (visually impaired athletics).

Team of the Year: 1. Zimbabwe Rugby Sevens, 2. Rugby National Team (Sables), 3. Zimbabwe Ladies Gold team (A Team).

Coach of the Year: 1. Gilbert Nyamutsamba (Rugby Sevens national team), 2. Rachel Davis (rowing), 3. Catherine Ann Riley (ladies golf)

Technical Official of the Year: 1. Rick Fulton (triathlon), 2. Forbes Shuwa (basketball), 3. Norman Mutemera (football).

Sports Administration of the Year: 1. Zimbabwe Rugby Union, 2. Zimbabwe Shooting Sports Federation, 3. Horse Society of Zimbabwe.

Sports Development of the Year: 1. Zimbabwe Handball Federation, 2. Zimbabwe Volleyball Association, 3. Zimbabwe Rugby Union.

Woman in Sports award: Ginny Ross (hockey).

Special Acknowledgement award: Matan Holdings (Manicaland Province).

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