World champion paddler Andy Birkett was honoured with a Ministers Excellence Award at the SA Sports Awards at Sun City on Saturday night, capping off a remarkable year in which he established himself as the best male athlete in world marathon racing.
Birkett won the ICF Senior Men’s K1 marathon crown in Spain last year in a riveting duel with local favourite Jose Ramalho and Danish defending world champion Mads Pedersen, less than three months after he had won the Senior Men’s K1 marathon title at the World Games in the US city of Birmingham, Alabama against an equally strong field.
His stellar international season mirrored his remarkable domestic season where he has dominant in flatwater marathons, rivers races and excelled in many major surfski events.
A few weeks ago Birkett won his thirteenth Dusi marathon title shortly after the successful defence of his N3TC Drak Challenge marathon crown.
The East London-based star’s 2022 season included winning the SA K1 River Marathon title at the Fish Marathon, winning the Pete Marlin double surfski crown with Nicky Notten before the pair went on to take the national double surfski title at the Prescient Freedom Paddle.
“We are very proud of Andy and his phenomenal achievements,” said Canoeing South Africa president Kim Pople.
“It was fantastic that he was honoured by Minister Kodwa,” she added.
Birkett was one of three nominees for the Sportsman of the Year Award, along with track athlete Akani Simbine and swimmer Pieter Coetzer, who won the award.