South Africans at the Laureus World Sports Awards

South Africans at the Laureus World Sports Awards

How have South Africans fared over the years at the world's biggest sports awards?


South Africa has a rich history in the sporting world.

From the 1995 Rugby World Cup winners to the athletics sensation that is Caster Semenya, the world has stood up and taken notice over the years of just how talented South Africans are.

READ: The 2020 Laureus World Sports Awards nominees

For the last 20 years, the Laureus World Sports Awards has been seen as the pinnacle of accolades in the sports world, so even just being nominated for an award is a big thing.

Here we take a look at the South African sports stars and teams who have been nominated for an award over the years:

2003 - Gary Player (Golf)

Legendary golfer Gary Player was awarded the 'Lifetime Achievement Award' for his services to the game of golf. Player was the fourth recipient of the award after Pele, Steve Redgrave, and Peter Blake.

2004 - Natalie du Toit (Swimming)

The inspirational Natalie du Toit won gold in the 800 metres freestyle at the All-Africa Games in 2003, where she competed against able-bodied swimmers. This achievement was unprecedented at the time and led to her receiving a nomination for the 'Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability' award. She did not win the award, but big things were still to come from the Cape Town star.

2008 - Springboks (Rugby Union)

The Springboks won the 2007 Rugby World Cup, so it was fitting that they were put up for the 'Team of the Year' award in 2008. The Boks ended up taking the award home, beating the likes of AC Milan (Football), Ferrari (Formula One), and Australia (Cricket).

2008 - Oscar Pistorius (Athletics)

Oscar Pistorius, who is now a convicted murderer, once had the world in the palm of his hands. The disabled athlete shot onto the athletics scene in 2004 and became a household name in 2007, leading to his nomination for the 'Breakthrough of the Year' award in 2008. He lost out to Formula One star Lewis Hamilton.

2010 - Springboks (Rugby Union)

The Springboks were nominated again for the 'Team of the Year' award in 2010 after a fantastic victory over the touring British and Irish Lions and triumph in the Tri Nations in 2009. However, the ended up losing out to the Brawn Formula One Team.

2010 - Natalie du Toit (Swimming)

Natalie du Toit finally won the award she so richly deserved. Du Toit took home the 'Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability' award in 2010 for "breaking down the barriers between disabled and able-bodied sport".

2011 - Louis Oosthuizen (Golf)

South African golfer Louis Oosthuizen won The Open Championship in 2010. His achievement led to him being nominated for the 'Breakthrough of the Year' award in 2011. Sadly, he lost out to fellow golfer Martin Kaymer.

2012 - Oscar Pistorius (Athletics)

Pistorius was again nominated for the 'Breakthrough of the Year' award in 2012. Golfer Rory McIlroy took home the prize. Pistorius was also nominated for the 'Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability' award, which he won.

2013 - Ernie Els (Golf)

Ernie Els has been a household name in South African sport for decades. However, in the years leading up to this nomination in 2013, the general consensus was that his days of dominating the world of golf were over. His stunning win at The Open Championship in 2012 put to bed those rumours that he was a spent force, and he was honoured with a nomination for 'Comeback of the Year'. Els sadly lost out to athlete Félix Sánchez. 

2015 - Schalk Burger (Rugby Union)

In 2013, Schalk Burger nearly lost his life to bacterial meningitis, which he contracted after an operation on his spine. Thankfully, he managed to make a full recovery, but it was thought at the time that his rugby days were over. Through determination to continue doing what he loves, Burger made a full recovery and returned to the rugby field. This achievement led to him being awarded the 'Comeback of the Year' accolade in 2015. 

2016 - Pieter du Preez (Athletics / Cycling)

In 2015, Pieter du Preez broke the 10,000m world record for wheelchair racing. Also in 2015, he set new African records in the 200m, 1500m, and 10,000m races. His achievements led to a nomination for the 'Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability' award in 2016, but sadly he lost out to Brazilian swimmer Daniel Dias.

2017 - Wayde van Niekerk (Athletics)

Wayde van Niekerk won Gold at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The 400m star from Cape Town made such a big impact with his achievement that he was nominated for 'Breakthrough of the Year' in 2017. Unfortunately, he lost out on the award to Formula One star Nico Rosberg.

2018 - Caster Semenya (Athletics)

Despite the controversy Caster Semenya has had to deal with throughout her career, the star athlete has always held her head high and represented South Africa with aplomb. Semenya was nominated for the 'Sportswoman of the Year' award in 2018, but lost out to tennis phenom Serena Williams.

You can watch the 2020 Laureus World Sports Awards live on JacarandaFM’s website on Monday, 17 February 2020.

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