Cara reigns supreme

HARARE - Former world number one doubles tennis player Cara Black yesterday capped off a stellar season by being crowned the Zimbabwe Sportsperson of the Year for a record-equalling fourth time.

The 35-year-old Harare-born ace was honoured in absentia at a colourful Annual National Sports Awards (Ansa) ceremony in Harare last night.

Black had won Zimbabwean sports’ biggest individual prize on three previous occasions to join swimming icon Kirsty Coventry as a record four-time winner of the award.

Black fended off stiff challenge from karateka Samson Muripo, who had earlier in the night won the Sportsman of the Year Award.

Muripo was rewarded for his outstanding season that saw him winning a bronze medal at the World Kyokushin Union Championships in Bulgaria.

The 35-year-old followed that up with a spectacular performance in Shanghai, China, when he was crowned champion in the World So-Kyokushin Cup International heavyweight category in October.

Boxer Charles Manyuchi, who shone on the international boxing scene after winning the African Boxing Union (ABU) welterweight title, won the silver medal in that category.

All-Africa Games gold medallist Takanyi Garanganga, who continues to improve his ratings on the ITF Futures Tournaments, closed off with the bronze medal.

But the night belonged to Black, a winner of 57 WTA and 11 ITF doubles titles.

Earlier in the evening, Black won the Sportswoman of the Year award ahead of Olympic rower Micheen Thornycroft and hockey’s Rachel Goromonzi, who settled for silver and bronze respectively.

It was beautiful story for Black, who had retired from the sport in 2011 before making a sensational comeback, going on to win the doubles title at the China Open with partner Sania Mirza and also reaching the doubles’ final at the Madrid Open this year.

The Zimbabwe female tennis ace, who has so far made $6 731 700 in total prize money since turning professional in 1998 at the age of 19, did not attend the ceremony.

Black is currently in India where she is training with her doubles partner Sania Mirza’s in preparation of next season. Winning a Grand Slam is her prime objective in the new season.

A surprise winner for the Team of the Year award was the Zimbabwe Under-19 Beach Volleyball team, which qualified for the World Championships for the first time despite the absence of natural beaches in the country.

The tournament was held in Portugal, with Zimbabwe bowing out at the group stages.

Meanwhile, Peter Purcell-Gilpin walked away with the Junior Sport person of the Year ahead of the country’s leading triathlete, Laurelle Brown. Brown had earlier won the Junior Sportswoman of the Year award.

Purcell-Gilpin was rewarded for a good year which saw him coming second in Under-21 category at the Sydney Rowing Championships in Australia.

The 19-year-old competed in Italy in April in the double scull Paulo D’Alorja Rowing Championships alongside former Junior Sportsman of the Year James Fraser-Mackenzie, where he had a fairly decent outing.

The former St Georges College pupil then attended the World Under-23 World Rowing Championships, where he competed in the single scull, finishing 27th overall.

Purcell-Gilpin had won the Junior Sportsman of the Year award ahead of his rowing compatriot Faber Lauchlan and Athletics Michael Songore.

Canadian Rachel Davis, who helped Thornycroft to the Olympics, was crowned the Coach of the Year ahead of Zimbabwe football coach Ian Gorowa and triathlon coach Wayne Davidson.

WINNERS

Sportsperson of the Year (Cara Black, tennis), Coach of the Year (Rachel Davies, rowing), Sportsman of the Year (Samson Muripo, karate), Sportswoman of the Year (Cara Black, tennis), Team of the Year (Zim Under-19 Beach Volleyball team),  Junior Sportswoman of the Year (Laurelle Brown, triathlon), Junior Sportsman of the Year (Peter Purcell-Gilpin, rowing), Junior Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability (Sithole Laina, T13 Athletics), Junior Sportsman of the Year with a Disability (Brian Mafuvise, wheelchair tennis), Sports Woman of the Year with a Disability (Margret Bangajena, wheelchair racing), Sportsman of the year with a Disability (Elford Moyo, wheelchair racing), Technical Official of the Year (Ginny Ross, hockey), Sports Administrator of the Year (Triathlon Zimbabwe), Sports Development of the Year (National BMX Association of Zimbabwe), Women in Sport Award (Olivia Mguni).

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