36th Sports Awards of the Year 2019 crowning ceremony Rodney Govinden and Felicity Passon reign supreme |01 February 2020
Seychelles being surrounded by water, it is no big surprise that the country’s best athletes for the year 2019 practices water sports, precisely yachting and swimming.
Sailor Rodney Govinden and swimmer Felicity Passon were crowned as Sportsman and Sportswoman for 2019 yesterday, during the traditional awards ceremony, most commonly known as the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards, held at the NSC Multipurpose Hall at Roche Caïman.
Yesterday’s title was the second for Govinden who was also first crowned as the best in 2015, while Passon’s crowning was her first in her young swimming career.
They replace boxer Keddy Agnes and badminton player Allisen Camille who won the titles for 2018.
The annual ceremony targets outstanding athletes from the various local sports federations and associations who have excelled in their respective discipline during the previous year, while its main highlight is the countdown, featuring the top 10 male and female athletes, leading to the two best who are crowned as ambassadors.
It also features the race to the top in the young athletes category which features five young male and female athletes.
Last night’s ceremony, the 36th to be hosted, was attended by President Danny Faure, Vice-President Vincent Meriton, Designated Minister Macsuzy Mondon, leader of the opposition Wavel Ramkalawan, ministers, invitees, athletes, coaches, officials, representatives of sponsors and paying guests.
In a foreword for the occasion, Designated Minister Macsuzy Mondon, who is also the minister responsible for sports, noted that even if 2019 has been a challenging sporting year, Team Seychelles brought us much joy and pride as a small nation.
She added that our athletes have marched and performed alongside the world’s sporting bests and it is therefore fitting to recognise them for their achievements, hard work and outstanding performances.
“The award recipients and finalists are all winners for having faced challenges head on and for overcoming them,” she added.
Minister Mondon also encouraged all athletes who have not received an award this time around to work even harder and to go the extra mile.
In her speech, Designated Minister Mondon told the athletes that we are proud of their achievements for they displayed true team spirit, excellent sports skills, and strength of character when competing for their country.
“Sport is an important part of our nation building process. It has inspired us and built a sense of pride among our people. Our Team Seychelles embodies the values that represent our society’s determination, team work, the relentless pursuit of excellence and the athletes’ commitment to give their best for themselves and for their country. Their journeys, often punctuated with ups and downs, inspire us. We urge them on when they are down and celebrate with them when they triumph. 2019 has been a remarkable year for Team Seychelles and tonight is a fitting occasion to highlight our achievements,” said Designated Minister Mondon.
After highlighting some of our successes to show that the future of Seychelles sports looks bright and is in good hands, Designated Minister Mondon said the government continues to invest in our youth and sports development after over R35 million were invested in the Indian Ocean Islands Games and African Games in 2019.
“Nevertheless, we are conscious that we have to increase our investment. The government recognises the importance of sports in the society and, thus, will continue to invest in sports facilities and programmes to promote excellence in our sportsmen and women and a healthy and active lifestyle for our people,” she added.
Among his many achievements in 2019, Govinden became the first Seychellois athlete to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan after clinching the Laser gold medal at the 2019 African Championship RSX and Laser.
Three first places, five second places, one third place, earning him a nett score of 22 points were enough to book him a place in Tokyo after his two worst finishes – 10th and 11th places – were discarded.
Govinden also brought home a silver medal from the 10th Indian Ocean Islands Games (IOIG) held in Mauritius.
He also took part in various Laser Europa Cup series, registering some very good results – 62nd out of 69 sailors in the French Olympic Week, fifth out of 59 sailors in the Laser Europa Cup, seventh out of 19 sailors in the Laser Europa Cup Netherlands and 125th out of 152 sailors in the European Championship in Porto.
As for Passon, who became the ‘Darling’ of the Seychellois nation in 2019 and nicknamed the ‘Golden Girl’, her performance was outstanding last year.
At the 10th IOIG, Passon won 11 medals – seven gold, three silver (one individual and two in relays) and one bronze – while at the 12th African Games in Rabat, Morocco in August, she won four other medals, namely two gold, a silver and a bronze.
The exploit made her the first Seychellois swimmer to win a gold medal at the African Games.
Her two gold medals came in the 100m backstroke where she clocked 1 minute 02.42 seconds (1:02.42) and in the 200m backstroke in 2:14.55.
Her silver medal came in the 50m backstroke in a time of 29.17 seconds, while her bronze medal came in the 100m butterfly in 1:00.61.
Second in the men’s ranking was Praslinois surfboarder Jean-Marc Gardette who brought home a silver medal from the African Championship in Algeria, finishing second among 12 surfers.
Another Praslinois, judoka Dominic Dugasse came out third overall after entering the history books in 2019 by becoming the first ever Seychellois athlete to win a medal – bronze – at the African Judo Championship, held in Cape Town, South Africa.
Swimmer Mathieu Bachmann who acquired the Seychellois citizenship in 2019 finished fourth overall after winning eight medals – five gold (three individual and two in relays) and three silver – at the CANA Zone IV Championships, and captured another eight medals – one gold, three silver and four bronze (one individual and three in relays) – at the 10th IOIG.
Outgoing athlete of the year, boxer Keddy Agnes finished fifth overall, despite a satisfactory performance in 2019 which include the +91kg category gold medal at the African Zone 4 boxing championship held in Gaborone, Botswana and a silver medal at the 10th IOIG.
Female weightlifter Romantha Larue is the runner-up in the women’s category following her exploit at the 10th IOIG where she won three gold medals after snatching 65kg and lifting 85kg in clean and jerk for a total of 150kg.
Locally, she competed in the National Championship where she finished first in the 87kg category (75kg in snatch and 100kg in clean and jerk) and also at the Open Championship where once again she excelled with 65kg in snatch and 80kg in clean and jerk.
Her fellow lifter Clementina Agricole finished third overall after winning three gold medals with a grand total of 166kg, after snatching 73kg and lifting 93kg in clean and jerk at the IOIG.
Young field specialist Natacha Chetty came out fourth overall, following her two gold medals in long jump and high jump at the 10th IOIG.
In long jump, she leaped a best distance of 6.04m, while in high jump, she clinched the gold medal after clearing the bar at 1.70m.
She also competed at the African Junior Championship for the Under-18 and the Under-20 held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in April where she won a silver medal in high jump with a performance of 1.77m.
Lanky volleyball player Petra Richard finished fifth overall after leading her Cascade team to winning the Curtain-raiser tournament and Women’s first division league in 2019.
She also captained the national team at the 10th IOIG where they won the gold medal after defeating Madagascar 3-2 in the final.
In the young athlete’s category, tennis player Damien Laporte retained his title won in 2018, following his excellent performance in 2019. This is his third win after first claiming the title in 2016.
A member of the Academia Sánchez-Casal, an internationally known high-performance training centre in Barcelona, Spain, Damien left his prints on the South American soil in 2019, precisely at the International Tennis Federation’s J5 tournaments in South America where he won gold in both singles and doubles in Guatemala and Costa Rica.
He is targeting the Junior Grand Slams qualifications in 2020.
High jumper Joshua Onezime was the runner-up and his main exploit in 2019 was a silver medal after clearing the bar at 2.06m at the African Junior Championship for the Under-18 and the Under-20 held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
His second international medal was at the 10th IOIG where he finished third, winning the bronze with a performance of 2.00m.
Canoeist Trevor Lespoir who is following in the footsteps of his father, seasoned paddler Tony Lespoir, finished third overall, after bringing home two bronze medals from the African Championships held in Egypt.
In the K2 1000m race, Lespoir finished third and he took the same position in the K2 200m race.
In the same category for ladies, weightlifter Joelita Koloma powered her way to the top, finishing first after winning two bronze and a silver medal at the 10th IOIG and three youth silver medals at the African Junior weightlifting championships in Kampala, Uganda.
In the 76kg group, Koloma snatched 55kg, before lifting 70kg in clean and jerk, for an overall total of 125kg
Being still a youth athlete, the result also earned Koloma three junior bronze medals.
Swimmer Therese Soukup was the group’s runner-up after winning the 800m freestyle gold medal at the Confédération Africaine de Natation (Cana) Zone IV Swimming Championships which took place in Windhoek, Namibia.
She also brought home the 400m silver medal at the competition, while winning seven medals – three silver and four bronze at the 10th IOIG.
Karateka Thara Michel finished third overall in the group following her good result at the World Tang Soo Do Association Region 11 European Championship held in the Netherlands.
A member of the Northern Tang Soo Do club, Michel won three medals – one silver and two bronze – in sparring, open hand hyung and hyung with weapon.