Following an iconic year for cricket in South Africa, which saw the men's team rise to the top of the official rankings in all three formats of the game, the Proteas were rewarded for their contribution to South African sport at the Virgin Active Sport Industry Awards 2013 in front of over 1,200 industry leaders last night.
The Deloitte Outstanding Contribution to SA Sport trophy was presented to AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Jacques Rudolph and Faf Du Plessis by last year's winner, Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius, who said: "It's a great honour to present this Award. I'm like many South Africans - we're glued to the TV when these guys are overseas, and on home soil we're there on the grass beside the field. It's absolutely fantastic watching them perform. Every one of them plays an integral part in bringing up our country and uniting us, so it's fantastic to be here tonight and give them a small piece of recognition for their outstanding achievement. It's a great honour for me."
2012 a year of highlights
One Day and Twenty20 captain AB de Villiers commented: "There were quite a few highlights this year. All the wins were really special, especially England, starting off there. I remember the Olympic Games when we were there - we felt part of a whole South African community there in England and we did really well; then Ernie Els winning the British Open. Then we were off to Australia, which was special. But coming back to South Africa now and seeing the support that we've got and understanding what we've achieved is really special."
Graeme Smith's Test team travelled the world throughout 2012, taking in Dunedin's cold, Leeds' wind and Adelaide's heat along the way, leaving nothing but the taste of defeat in their wake. The team secured back-to-back series wins away from home, playing 10 Test matches undefeated.
The Proteas fittingly claimed the World Number One spot in the ICC Test ranking from England at Lord's in July - with one notable highlight a historic triple century from Hashim Amla. The unbeaten, record-breaking 311 runs hit at The Oval was the first of its kind by a South African batsman.
The squad was treated to a standing ovation at the prestigious ceremony in Johannesburg, which celebrates the very best in commercial achievement in South African sport, was held at Emperors Palace, where the country's most famous sports stars gathered with the industry's most influential experts. The night recognised winners of Awards for their work in disciplines including PR, marketing, advertising, sponsorship, community investment, and overall commercial success.
Jomo Sono wins Johnnie Walker Lifetime Achievement Award
Also at the awards, Ephraim Matsilela 'Jomo' Sono (right), the Black Prince of South African soccer, was honoured with the coveted Johnnie Walker Lifetime Achievement Award, becoming the first man from the world of soccer to win the prize.
Following in the footsteps of Sam Ramsamy, winner of the Award in 2011, and 2012 winner Gary Player, Sono was presented with the trophy by Premier Soccer League (PSL) Chairman and Orlando Pirates owner Dr Irvin Khoza at Emperors Palace, Johannesburg, in front of more than 1,200 people from across the world of sport and beyond.
Dr Khoza hailed Sono as "a great African legend," adding: "This Award is because of Jomo's talent, hard work and dedication. Who else would leave his wedding ceremony to ensure his team did not have to play without him?" Despite his many accomplishments off the pitch in recent decades, Dr Khoza praised his memories of Sono as a footballer, saying simply: "He was the best player in South Africa."
To see the rest of the winners at the Virgin Active Sport Industry Awards, visit www.sportindustry.co.za
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