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And the 2016 South African of the Year goes to… Wayde van Niekerk

Cape Town-born Olympic gold medallist and SA sprint sensation is the country’s number one according to a Twitter poll

Proudly Capetonian Olympic gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk was voted “South African of the Year” in a week-long Twitter poll organised by Jan “Braai” Scannell (@janbraai), founder of National Braai Day, in celebration of Heritage Day.

Over 40 000 South Africans took part in the poll and had the option of voting for DJ Black Coffee, 2016 Olympic 800m-champion Caster Semenya, opera star Pretty Yende and Wayde van Niekerk.

“The South African of the Year is someone who, with a phenomenal achievement, made you extremely proud to be South African,” states Jan Scannell, the man behind the National Braai Day initiative as well as the South African of the Year awards.

“Our intention is to highlight exceptional performances by South Africans that bring the country to a standstill, and to acknowledge the special moments where the hearts of the nation beat together, united in pride. All four candidates are truly exceptional South Africans, and their achievements should make us all feel proud to be South African. I think Wayde’s performance was just such a blockbuster moment that it made not only our country sit up and take notice, but also the rest of the world.”

Black Coffee was nominated for becoming the first South African to win a BET Award. The  musician received the trophy for the Best International Act – Africa category earlier this year. Caster Semenya was nominated for her gold medal success in Rio, while soprano singer Pretty Yende (who has won critical acclaim in the opera houses of Vienna, Moscow, Milan and New York), has recently released her first solo album.

In the end, however, it was Wayde’s incredible record-breaking sprint to the finish mark in the 2016 Rio Olympic 400m final that sealed the deal.  

The “South African of the Year” is a registered trademark, of which the National Braai Day initiative is the legal custodian. Scannell came up with the original idea for National Braai Day as a way of celebrating Heritage Day and said that the South African of the Year is a non-profit project with the sole purpose to enhance Heritage Day celebrations.

Source: southafricanoftheyear.com (@janbraai)

Image: Rogers Sedres/Gallo Images (via The Citizen)

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