Zimbabwe: Manyuchi Set for Glory, but . . .

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BOXER Charles Manyuchi is the favourite to win big tonight when the country honours its outstanding sportsmen and women at the Annual National Sports Awards, but there is no doubt the winner should have been footballer Khama Billiat. While 2016 was an Olympic year, Zimbabwe struggled to make an impression at the Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as the athletes came back home empty-handed.

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And, after becoming the World Boxing Council welterweight silver champion in May last year, Manyuchi is one of the favourites to win the 2016 Sportsperson of the Year award.

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But Billiat should have been the odds-on favourite for the top individual accolade following a stellar season with Mamelodi Sundowns.

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However, there were indications last night that his name was not forwarded for the award by his association ZIFA.

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But, even if that was the case, the selection panel should have picked out the anomaly and handed Billiat the top gong.

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Not only did he win the CAF Champions League medal and get named the second best player plying his trade on the continent, but Billiat scooped all the top individual awards at the South Africa PSL crowning ceremony last year.

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Billiat won the South African PSL Footballer of the Season award to spice an unforgettable season with Sundowns.

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The 26-year-old also took home the 2015-16 Absa Premiership Player’s Player of the Season and the Absa Premiership Midfielder of the Season awards ahead of teammates — Hlompho Kekana and Keagan Dolly.

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He took total prize money of R450 000.

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The Aces Youth Academy product was also instrumental in Zimbabwe’s qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations currently underway in Gabon with three goals in the qualifiers.

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However, there are indications that Billiat will receive a special acknowledgment award tonight for his outstanding performance in 2016.

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The Mighty Warriors will battle for the Team of the Year award alongside the Under-21 girls hockey team that took part in the Junior World Cup in Chile for the first time in 10 years last year.

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The Under-21 netball team are also in the running for the award following their qualification for the World Youth Championships to be held this year in Botswana.

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The Mighty Warriors qualified for the African Women Cup of Nations but it proved to be a tough task for them as they were eliminated in the group stages in Cameroon.

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The senior women football side made history by becoming the first football team from this country to compete at the Olympic Games last year.

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The Warriors, while they qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations, did not make it for the short listed finalists for the Team of the Year award.

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The ceremony was initially set for December 14 before it was moved to this year following reduced submission of nominees by the national associations by the cut-off date.

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The judges’ panel chairperson, Thembi Moyo, said the extension of the cut-off date allowed for an improvement of the entries for the nominees.

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“Following reduced submission by the NSAs and upon recommendation from the judges’ panel, the Commission saw it fit to extend the cut-off to December where ordinarily the cut-off would have been October and postpone the awards ceremony to January 2017.

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“This allowed for an improvement in the entrants.

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“Mention must be made though, that the awards were tightly contested for. The quality of information and profiling of the sports persons submitted has improved,” said Moyo.

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Sports Commission acting director-general, Joseph Muchechetere, said they are looking forward to the ceremony tonight.

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“For us as the Sport and Recreation Commission to host Ansa, it’s a statutory requirement, we are mandated by government to co-ordinate the holding of Ansa. And this is the premier event in this country.

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“Our theme is Striving for Excellence, not only in the Ansa but in terms of all our programmes and this time we are happy to say that we would want to celebrate the outstanding performance by our athletes. They have done a lot during the course of the year (2016),” said Muchechetere.

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Ansa nominees finalists

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Junior Sports Woman of the Year

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Danielle Marie Bekker (golf), Rebekah Ryaan Oberholzer (BMX), Ciara Jessica Soper (rowing).

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Junior Sports Man of the Year

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Chengetayi Mapaya (athletics), Wyne Nkomo (athletics), Beaven Sibanda (karate).

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Junior Sports Woman of the Year with a Disability

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Moment Bhebhe (athletics VI), Grace Nyamadzawo (athletics VI), Libetra Shoko (athletics VI).

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Junior Sports Man of the Year with a Disability

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Liberty Mazino (athletics VI), Tafadzwa Munyoro (athletics VI), Shepherd Patrick (athletics VI).

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Sports Woman of the Year

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Camila Ruth Kruger (equestrian), Rutendo Nyahora (athletics), Micheen Thornycroft (rowing).

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Sports Man of the Year

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Brian Chiringa (karate), Charles Manyuchi (professional boxing), Scot Vincent (professional golf).

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Sports Woman of the Year with a Disability

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Margaret Bangajena (wheelchair racing), Thandiwe Ndlovu (wheelchair racing), Ratidzo Tom (wheelchair racing).

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Sports Man of the Year with a Disability

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Elford Moyo (wheelchair racing), Michael Mudyanadzo (special Olympics golf), Munyaradzi Musariri (special Olympics golf).

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Team of the Year

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National Under-21 girls (hockey), Mighty Warriors (football), Team Zimbabwe (AUSC Youth Games) Under-17 boys.

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Coach of the Year

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Rachel Jane Davis (rowing), Trish Davies (hockey Under-21 national team), Ropafadzo Mutsauki (netball Under-21 national team).

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Technical of the Year

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Agnes Chiroodza (netball), Debi Jeans (judo), Lucky Mlilo (squash).

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Women and Sport Award

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Grace Chirumanzu (karate), Kirsty Coventry (swimming), Micheen Thornycroft (rowing).

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Sports-person of the Year.

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Junior Sports-person of the Year.

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Sports Administration of the Year.

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Development Award.

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Special Acknowledgement Award.

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