Karla Pretorius Named 2020 gsport Newsmaker of the Year
International netball sensation Karla Pretorius has been named gsport Newsmaker of the Year at a lunch to celebrate recipients of the gsport Annual List (#GAL2020), launched last December to track the growth of women’s sport coverage.
Pretorius reached 100 appearances for Sunshine Coast Lightning, and was their Player of the Year for the third time in a row, with impactful performances in Australia’s Suncorp Netball League. In August this year, she was crowned the inaugural Global Woman in Sport award winner at the Momentum gsport Awards.
Cricket features strongly on the list, and includes award-winning Proteas Women duo Laura Wolvaardt and Shabnim Ismail, who have played key roles in the T20 format this year.
Wolvaardt had an impressive ICC T20 World Cup campaign earlier this year, and was named in the Team of the Tournament after bringing South Africa close to victory in the semi-finals against Australia. She went on to win SA Women’s Cricketer of the Year, and was a recipient of a gsport Ministerial Award.
SA T20 International Cricketer of the Year Ismail is growing her reputation as a fiery new ball bowler, recently becoming the first overseas player, male or female, to win the Player of the Match award in the Women’s Big Bash League final, with impressive figures of 2/16 in four overs, to help her team Sydney Thunder win the WBBL title.
Football also stands out on the list in the form of South Africa’s most successful national football team, Banyana Banyana, which won the Cosafa Cup for a record seventh time, and their coach, Desiree Ellis, who successfully defended her CAF Coach of the Year title among other major awards, including gsport Coach of the Year.
Judo makes an appearance on the list, thanks to Olympic hopeful Michaela Whitebooi, who has been dominating Africa, recently winning back-to-back gold at the Cameroon and Dakar Open events to break into the Top 50 in the world. She is currently in Madagascar to defend her title and move closer towards her goal of qualifying for the Olympics.
South Africa’s 10km cross-country, 10km road running and half-marathon champion Glenrose Xaba continues to reel in the milestones, and looks in red-hot form heading into 2021, having recorded a personal best in the World Half Marathon this October.
South Africa’s leading women’s wheelchair tennis star KG Montjane played in her first Australian Open semi-final earlier this year, and also went on to become the most decorated sportswoman on the gsport Awards stage, winning her fourth Athlete with Disability title. She was recently announced as an ambassador to power the growth of tennis.
The List acknowledges financial services provider Momentum, which stood by women in sport through a pandemic-hit year. Momentum renewed its sponsorship of the Proteas Women’s team, and allowed women in sport to boldly own their success with its whole-hearted support of the Momentum gsport Awards.
The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture finds itself on the list for putting women’s sport first this year, despite months of inactivity due to Covid-19. It issued sport relief payments to assist athletes who were struggling financially and rewarded athletes who excelled for the country.
gsport was launched in August 2006 to raise the profile of women’s sport, and has grown into South Africa’s leading women’s sport news provider in 2020, covering women’s sport daily on gsport.co.za and @gsport4girls across social media.
FULL LIST OF #GAL2020 NEWSMAKERS
Department of Sport, Arts & Culture
Momentum gsport Awards creates employment during Covid-19
In August, leading women’s sport initiative gsport decided to play its part by creating short-term job opportunities through its #gsport15 campaign, to ease the pressure on the media industry, which was starting to shed jobs at an alarming rate.
This development was only possible because of the sincere support of Naming Rights Partner, Momentum, the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture, Brand South Africa and Estée Lauder, which allowed gsport to engage independent women contractors to power its annual awards celebration.
In a year like no other, when sponsorships were being cut, these partnerships powered the 15th edition of the country’s longest running women’s sport awards, and allowed women small business owners to lead from the front and produce a memorable celebration of women’s sport at the Momentum gsport Awards.
Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on small businesses in South Africa. A recent study published in collaboration with the Department of Small Business Development found that the lockdown forced the closure of 42.7% of small businesses.
The #gsport15 campaign paid out over R300 000 to independent contractors during the campaign while honouring the award winners with prize money to the value of R220 000 in total.
The employment opportunities and receipt of prize money helped women advance their careers and also eased the financial strain caused by Covid-19.
The night of the awards provided opportunities for rising women in sport media to make the step up.
Sinethemba Mbatha, who featured on the awards Presenter Squad team as Social Media Host, was honoured for always going above and beyond to ensure that women’s sport is respected on her various social media platforms.
“When the coronavirus outbreak happened, I had expected women’s sport to take a back seat because the virus seemed like it was here to hinder the progress that women in sport were making but I was wrong — women’s sport thrived!
“Working on the awards campaign for me was first of all an opportunity I was grateful for and for the first time, I got paid to do something I loved during a pandemic, so that alone shows the respect that women in sport are slowly getting. That was massive for me!” Mbatha admitted.
Campaign messaging was important and two key hires in this regard were #gsport15 campaign PR Manager Lerato Malekutu and Sub-Editor Lonwabo Nkohla.
Malekutu, a former Proteas media manager, said she was grateful to be gainfully employed at a time when the industry offered limited opportunities.
“I got paid to do something that I love during a time when income in the industry was limited; that is about as good as it gets.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work on the most incredible projects throughout the year, projects I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to pursue had Covid-19 not derailed my year’s plan,” revealed Malekutu.
Seasoned Radio 2000 Sport Anchor Nkohla says that the opportunity to work solely on amplifying women’s sport was a career highlight.
“A global pandemic will definitely add an extra layer of uncertainty where career advancements and bills are concerned — especially being a woman — so the opportunities during the #gsport15 campaign definitely made a huge proportion of my 2020 make sense, and I do not take that for granted.
“The gsport platform as a whole, as well as the Momentum gsport Awards gave many other women and I an opportunity to grow at a time where things looked bleak,” she continued.
Nkohla also got the golden opportunity on the night of Momentum gsport Awards.
“I took up space and cemented myself as one of South Africa’s voices,” she said.
The introduction of the Writer’s Block brought a fresh dimension to the awards campaign as experienced journalists took up the challenge to champion this year’s finalists and got them paid at a time when writers were struggling to secure paid opportunities.
“I was so grateful for the opportunity to write articles in the build-up to the Awards because above and beyond everything, it was a chance to once again be reminded about the great work the women celebrated have been able to achieve,” revealed Primedia journalist Tholakele Mnganga.
“I think amid the pandemic the bad stuff gets attention, but the one-on-one interviews helped me think outside the box and try to find some positives amid an ever-changing environment,” she added.
eNCA Sport Reporter Hloni Mtimkulu was encouraged by the powerful women in sport stories, which barely surface in mainstream media.
“It’s one thing to see and know about women being active in sport, but to hear and write about how people are being intentional in bringing women forward — that shifts the outlook completely, and it was such a refreshing experience.
“To have some financial incentive was a bonus to hearing these encouraging stories,” Mtimkulu admitted.
“I loved seeing how empowered the girls who were involved on the night were — there’s so much self-doubt involved with women in the industry, so it was good to see people coming out of their shells, and hopefully that will continue into the future.”
These were some of the leading women who ran a solid campaign, resulting in the 2020 Momentum gsport Awards premiering on SuperSport with seven repeats, which ran until 17 September, showcasing a glittering night for 27 winners.
2020 MOMENTUM GSPORT AWARD WINNERS
Momentum Athlete of the Year – Hayley Nixon
Athlete with Disability – Kgothatso Montjane
Coach of the Year – Desiree Ellis
Emerging Athlete – Caitlin Rooskrantz
Global Woman in Sport – Karla Pretorius
School Sports Star – Kaitlyn Ramduth
Woman in TV – Motshidisi Mohono
Woman in Radio – Itumeleng Banda
Woman in Social Media – Jo Prins
Woman in Print – Marizanne Kok
Woman in PR and Sponsorship – Keabetswe Taele
Woman of the Year – Virginia Mabaso
Estee Lauder Style Star – Zinhle Ndawonde
Brand SA Supporter of the Year – Selina Munsamy
Team of the Year – SPAR Proteas
Volunteer of the Year – Siyabulela Loyilane
Federation of the Year – SA Gymnastics
Special Recognition – Elizabeth Smith
Sponsor of the Year – SPAR
Public Choice – Awande Malinga
Ministerial Recognition of Excellence Awards
Women in Sport thrived during the pandemic
2020 started off with a bang for women’s sport as Springbok women’s rugby captain and history maker Babalwa Latsha jetted off to Spain, becoming the first African woman to land a professional rugby contract.
At the same time, in Egypt, Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis accepted her CAF Coach of the Year award for the second year running.
Days later, South Africa’s Kirsten Landman and Taye Perry became the first African women to complete the gruelling Dakar Rally on bikes, while the country’s number one women’s wheelchair tennis star, Kgothatso Montjane, reached the Australian Open semi-finals for the first time.
By March, when the Momentum Proteas came close to beating Australia in the semi-finals of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, we couldn’t keep up with the breaking women’s sport news!
Then, the coronavirus lockdown hit and live sport was cancelled, throwing many plans into disarray. But in those quiet, unsettling months of lockdown, women in sport punched above their weight, achieving incredible milestones and many historic firsts, laying the platform for solid success.
What followed was nothing short of inspiring as women shattered barriers by rising up to leadership positions in boardrooms, athletes signed their own playing deals and sponsors stood up for women’s sport.
With pressure mounting on South African sport regarding the lack of proper women representation in sports leadership, it was noteworthy to witness the historic election and appointment of women to key positions.
In May, Anne Vilas became the first woman President at Central Gauteng Lions Cricket. This was followed by Cricket South Africa’s appointment of Kugandrie Govender as its acting CEO in August.
Another leadership highlight was the introduction of five leading women in sport as members of the new board of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), including the two new vice-presidents – Lwandile Simelane and Dr Debbie Alexander.
Lockdown put a squeeze on the sponsorship market and governance issues threatened to derail cricket, with the future of women’s cricket on the line.
When financial services provider Momentum announced it was stepping out of men’s cricket yet would renew its Naming Rights partnership with the Proteas women’s team, it was evident how far women’s sport had come — it was rightfully claiming corporate support.
Even with the lockdown, women cricketers made the news. Individually, cricketers Mignon du Preez and Sune Luus earned personal sponsorships with Aucor and Falke South Africa as ambassadors, respectively.
Luus went on to break new ground with Ayabonga Khaka when they featured in the BCCI-run Women’s T20 Challenge in UAE.
Probably the biggest highlight for women’s cricket this year was having eight Momentum Proteas players — Dané van Niekerk, Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail, Mignon du Preez, Lizelle Lee, Chloe Tryon, Laura Wolvaardt and Nadine de Klerk — featuring in the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia.
Ismail ended up the most successful as she led her team Sydney Thunder to victory in the WBBL and earned the first ever Player of the Match award by an overseas player, male or female, in a BBL final.
In October, South Africa’s 10km cross-country, 10km road running and half-marathon champion Glenrose Xaba recorded a new personal best at the World Half-Marathon in Poland.
Globally, the country’s netballers also gained recognition as Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni flew the flag “down under” in Australia’s Suncorp Netball League.
A common winning thread ran through lockdown
Back on the playing field, Banyana Banyana’s footballers dominated the headlines for consecutive months, signing professional international contracts, including rising star Kholosa Biyana and veteran Noko Matlou earning their first deals abroad.
The likes of history-makers Thembi Kgatlana, Leandra Smeda, Jermaine Seoposenwe, Janine van Wyk, Rhoda Mulaudzi, Lebogang Ramalepe, Bambanani Mbane, Refiloe Jane and Ode Fulutudilu, to name a few, continue to ply their trade at various teams across Europe.
Their international success has encouraged the younger players selected by head coach Desiree Ellis for the 2020 Cosafa Women’s Cup to steer the senior team to their fourth consecutive title victory recently.
Leading South African cyclist Ashleigh Moolman Pasio pivoted to Esports during the quiet months and her investment paid off as she was crowned the first ever UCI Esports Champion.
As the pandemic brought the world to a halt, women in sport stood up and rolled with the punches.
As live sport finds is feet in a new normal, women in sport have a renewed sense of power as we head into 2021 — another promising year!
South African women athletes set sights on Olympics
South Africa will be banking on a young crop of athletes to emulate the country’s best ever women Olympic performers — Penny Heyns and Caster Semenya — when the Tokyo Games take place in Japan in 2021.
South African women have won 10 Olympic medals since readmission in 1992, with the iconic Heyns and Semenya accounting for five medals between them.
In 2016, Semenya and Sunette Viljoen led the way for South African female athletes with gold and silver respectively in Team South Africa’s overall medal tally of 10.
1996 was South Africa’s best year in terms of medal tally for women athletes, with the swimming duo of Penny Heyns and Marianne Kriel bringing in three medals that year.
With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Olympic-bound athletes are using the extra time to perfect their craft ahead of the Games in Tokyo next year.
So, what are the medal prospects for Team South Africa’s young women athletes in Tokyo next year?
In a year of uncertainty, three Olympic hopefuls have made it their mission to use the time available to ensure their readiness to compete internationally.
It’s been 20 years since a South African woman last won a medal in the pool at the Olympic Games, and swimming sensation Tatjana Schoenmaker will be wanting to make her mark in history, having already qualified for the Games.
In September, after making the most of limited training time in the pool, Schoenmaker broke the 200m breaststroke record set by Suzaan van Biljon in 2009, claiming South African and continental bragging rights in a time of 2min 18.20sec at the South African Short Course Championships in Pretoria.
“I wanted to see how fast Tatjana could swim the second 100m on a slow stroke count,” revealed her coach, Rocco Meiring.
“Only afterwards did we realise she had set a record; something so unusual for a national and continental record of this level to get broken at altitude, in a school pool, in Pretoria.”
Schoenmaker is no stranger to continuously breaking records.
She won double gold at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018, where she broke Heyns’s 100m breaststroke record, and won a first medal for a South African woman at a FINA World Championship when she took the 200m breaststroke silver in Gwangju, South Korea, in 2:22.42.
Away from the swimming pool, the spotlight is also on 2020 Momentum gsport Awards Emerging Athlete of the Year winner Caitlin Rooskrantz, who is working hard to put herself in position to win South Africa’s first ever gymnastics Olympic medal.
Instead of seeing the postponement as a setback, Rooskrantz saw it as a set-up for success.
Rooskrantz has been on the rise since last September when she made history by winning South Africa’s first ever international gymnastics gold medal with an unprecedented win at the FIG Challenge World Cup in Szombathely‚ Hungary in September 2019.
She had qualified fourth on the uneven bars‚ but then stepped up in the final to claim gold.
“My coach revealed to me that a few of the judges had told her if I could neaten up a bit here and there [in the final], I could bag a bronze medal. That was what I was going for, and I ended up winning my first international medal — a gold medal!”
Rooskrantz grew up enchanted by the Games and, as a child, she would flip and fly around the house. At the age of six, she joined a gymnastics club and found her niche. At the age of 10, she revealed in jest that she wanted to go to the Olympic Games one day.
“It was such a big goal. I never knew what was possible. I never witnessed it ever happening before. I believed that I could break barriers for my country in gymnastics,” the 19-year-old Rooskrantz said.
Port Elizabeth’s Michaela Whitebooi is also eyeing Olympic glory. It has been a satisfying period for Whitebooi since she won gold at the 40th African Judo Championship in 2019, becoming the first South African woman to win gold at the Championships in 20 years.
Last month, as live sport returned, Whitebooi gained vital points in her quest to qualify for the Tokyo Games when she won back-to-back golds at the Cameroon African Open and the Dakar African Open.
“I want to represent South Africa at the Olympic Games,” revealed Whitebooi, who also decided to dedicate 2020 to focus on her sport.
“I was striving for qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games, but it was postponed, but God willing, I will qualify next year,” she admitted.
Coming from the TuksSport High School, where she spent her high school career, Schoenmaker has become one of Whitebooi’s idols, whom she admires for her work ethic.
“I have seen her grow into a beautiful young woman and achieve her goals with all the hard work she puts in. Her ambition to reach her goals pushes me to greater heights, but also her beautiful personality and loving heart inspires me,” said Whitebooi.
With these young women flying the flag high not only for South Africa but also for women’s sport in the country, it is safe to say that South Africa’s medal hopes are in good hands.
The Olympic Games will take place from 23 July to 8 August 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.