Hamhola and Shikongo scoop RASA awards

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Hamhola and Shikongo scoop RASA awards

Athletics’ coach Letu Hamhola and his athlete Ananias Shikongo achieved remarkable success at the sixth edition of the Regional Annual Sports Awards (Rasa) in Lusaka, Zambia on Saturday. 

Hamhola was honoured with the Coach of the Year award, and Shikongo was named Sportsman of the Year with Disability. The pair were absent from the awards ceremony due to their participation in the World Para Athletics Championships in Kobe, Japan.

Hamhola triumphed against stiff competition from Zambian karate coach Nayoombe Muliyunda and Malawian football coach Lovemore Fazili. Similarly, Shikongo surpassed South Africa’s T44 athlete Mpumelo Mhlongo and Botswana’s T13 athlete Theo Nkele to secure his award.

Hamhola was humbled by the award. 

“It is still a surreal moment. However, I dedicate it to all Namibians and support structures, athletes, teams and federations that make it possible for us to succeed. There is an African proverb that says: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together’.”

“Therefore, congratulations to all winners and nominees as well as the coaches. We keep working while taking care of Namibia’s prized assets, let’s never stop believing,” he added. Former Namibian sprinter Frank Fredricks, renowned for his Olympic medals in the 1990s and his influential foundation as well as his compatriot, former professional boxer Harry Simon, a two-time world champion with WBO titles in 1998, 2001 and 2002, were both recognised as sports legends of the region for their achievements over the years.

Retired director of sport and renowned sports administrator Vetumbuavi Veii of Namibia, instrumental in transitioning African sport from the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) to the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) and serving as Region 5 chairperson for 13 years, was honoured with the chairperson’s award. Other recipients included Zambia’s former director of sport Sonstone Kashiba and the late Dennis Liwewe, a legendary football commentator.

Freddy Mwiya, the chief administrator of the Namibia Sports Commission, expressed pride in the achievements of Namibian athletes and administrators.

“We are proud that as a country, we have become a force in the region. The win is a step in the right direction. I am very proud to see Namibian athletes and administrators winning, and I am also very happy that three of our legends were recognised in the region,” he said. 

The awards ceremony, characterised by pomp and fanfare, recognised winners across 12 categories. 

The Sportswoman of the Year with Disability award was claimed by South African discus and shotput athlete Simone Kruger. Namibian T11 para-athlete Lahja Ishitile was also nominated in this category, but did not win. Another athlete in the category was Hana Winesi of Malawi (lawn tennis). 

Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo had an outstanding evening, winning both the Junior Sportsperson of the Year award and the Sportsperson of the Year award. South Africa’s Siya Kolisi was named Sportsman of the Year, edging out Bayapo Ndori of Botswana and Mancoba Nhlabatsi of Eswatini. The Sportswoman of the Year award went to Lesotho’s Michelle Tau in taekwondo, who triumphed over Lethabo Modukanale of Botswana and Beauty Makazwe of Zambia.

The Junior Female Sportsperson of the Year award went to Eswatini swimmer Hayley Hoy, who outperformed Victoria Mkwala of Malawi and Obakeng Kamberuka of Botswana. Zambia’s Virginia Cholongo won the Sports Journalist of the Year award, surpassing Fabrice Musonera of Eswatini and another Zambian, Virginia Chilongo. The South African national rugby team, the Springboks, were named Team of the Year, with the Botswana senior men’s relay team and the Malawian national women’s football team also in contention. The Botswana Judo Federation won the Confederation of the Year award for the second consecutive year.