Athletes rise up to challenges of 2021

West Coast’s Brendon Leask taking part in this year’s 12km City run.

It’s time again to look back on the year that has passed and the sports people who graced our pages.

Despite the world of sports slowly getting back to normal it looks like it will be a while before the unwanted player, Covid-19, is red carded and suspended for good.

With the Omnicron variant being discovered it seems we are back to what we have now become accustomed to – the stopping and starting of community sport.

While some sporting codes did get back to the thick of things on the field of play, spectators, however, haven’t been that fortunate to enjoy the thrill of sitting in the stands again.

With all the challenges we are faced with it was, however, not all gloomy in all corners of the sports industry.

Our sport editor, Fuad Esack, has recently been recognised by the Cape Town Sports Council as the Western Cape Sports Journalist of the year. An honour only reserved for those who go above and beyond expectations to tell and promote our community sports.

The nomination coming from the Cape Town Table Tennis makes the recognition even more gratifying as Esack has done extensive work for table tennis in the Cape Metropole.

Part of that work included recognising the likes of Gregory Naik who this year launched his academy. Naik is also the founder of Bonteheuwel Table Tennis Club and the last chairman of Western Province Table Tennis before changing its name to Cape Town Table Tennis.

Theo Cogill who survived a stab wound that left him paralysed to coming back and making the paralympic team and Liam Beukes who at 17 was crowned the under-19 SA champion are some of the work Cape Town Table Tennis felt Esack deserved his accolades for.

The Tabletalk distribution area is the heart of combat sport in the Cape Metropole as they showed this year. With their continued work giving a platform to upcoming mixed martial artists, Venters MMA managed to find a way of giving amateur combatants an opportunity to step in the cage and showcase their skills.

The Melkbosstrand-based gym regularly held MMA events for amateur mixed martial artists from Western Cape, with some events leading the fighters to their national and international competitions. The last of these being the Mixed Martial South Africa event where promising martial artists like Terrence Balelo and Denver Isaacs took centre stage.

Thaiholics also entered the frame this year with two Muay Thai events with one crowning Ncedo Gomba as WMO All Africa champion in the welterweight division. The event is the brainchild of former SA light heavyweight boxing champion Nicholas Radley.

At Killarney it was adrenaline-fueled action for petrol heads with events such as Cape Hell, Drag racing and Rallycross. The biggest of them all being the Cape Motorsport festival that was headlined by the 9-hour endurance series.

Milnerton High also had a lot to celebrate this year, one being on the rugby field wheel their star player Imaad Phillips signed a two-year deal with the Western Province under-20 side. It’s also worth mentioning that the school is no stranger to producing talent on the rugby field. Imaad is following in the footsteps of IRB World Cup winner Damian de Allende. Another pupil from the school Ammaar Burton is another star in the making. All this because of the work being done by the school’s Director of Rugby Henrich Martin who has dedicated himself to giving opportunities to the less privileged but talented individuals.

Tennis siblings from Edgemead Robbie and Kelly Arends also had a lot to be happy about in the year 2021 as the siblings continued to make strides on the tennis court. The 19 and 17 year old siblings have consistently maintained their top five rankings in their age groups and the year 2022 promises to be full of accolades for the rising stars.

Undoubtedly the Cape Town Marathon was the biggest spectacle this year that allowed mass participation, with more than 6 000 runners making it across the finish line. The race showed how hungry runners were to getting back on the road, particularly those who considered themselves social runners.

West Coast Athletics Club, Edgemead Runners, Melkbos Athletics club and many other club runners made sure not to miss out on this event.

We wish all our readers a safe and happy holiday.