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BBC Africa Relaunches African Sports Personality Of The Year 2021

A panel of experts, including administrators, journalists and coaches have come together to determine the six contenders who will compete for the public vote for African Sports Personality Of The Year 2021.

The shortlist who have all enjoyed a highly successful year of exceptional achievement are as follows (in alphabetical order):

Eliud Kipchoge – Athletics (Kenya)

Eliud Kipchoge is arguably the best marathon runner of all time. This year, Kipchoge cemented his status as the greatest runner ever over 26.2 miles after winning his second successive Olympic gold in the event. 

At 36, he was the oldest Olympic marathon runner since 1984 and recorded the greatest winning margin in the event since 1972.

Faith Kipyegon – Athletics (Kenya)

Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon set an Olympic record in Tokyo to win back-to-back 1500m golds. By so doing, she became only the third athlete to retain her Olympic title after giving birth between Games.

Prior to her feat on the Tokyo track, she had set a world-leading time of 3:51.07 – the fourth-fastest time in history – in Monaco in July at the Diamond League, an event in which she was crowned champion in September.

Ntando Mahlangu – Para-athletics (South Africa)

Ntando won his first Paralympic medal at just 14, when he won silver in the 200m at the Rio Games.

This year, he added to his medal collection where he took gold in both the men’s 200 metres (T61) and the men’s long jump (T63) at Tokyo 2020.

The jump that secured him the gold also saw him set a new world record of 7.17 m, so adding to the 200m world record he set in April.

Christine Mboma – Athletics (Namibia)

At just 18 years old she became the first Namibian woman to ever stand on an Olympic podium, after winning silver in the 200m at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games – finishing behind five-time Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica.

Her time of 21.81 seconds was the then fastest time ever run by a woman under 20 years old. In September, Mboma became the 200m Diamond League champion as her time of 21.78 set both another under-20 world record and a new African record.

Édouard Mendy – Football (Senegal)

Since signing for Chelsea in September 2020, Édouard Mendy has made an impressive start to life at Stamford Bridge.

He was instrumental in the club’s Champions League success, keeping a joint-record nine clean sheets in his debut season in the competition.

He made more history in that tournament, becoming the first African goalkeeper to play in a Champions League final.

Tatjana Schoenmaker – Swimming (South Africa)

Tatjana has made waves at the Tokyo Olympics, where she not only took home a gold and a silver for South Africa, but set new world and Olympic records in the 200m and 100m breaststroke in the process.

In doing so, she won South Africa’s first Olympic medal in women’s swimming since 2000.

The shortlist was announced during BBC World Service’s programme Newsday on Monday 6 December at 05:45 GMT, and voting is now open.

The vote will close at 23:59 GMT on Sunday 19 December 2021 and the winner of the BBC African sports personality will be revealed on 7 January 2022.

Since 1992, BBC Africa hosted African Sports Star Of The Year, which became African Footballer Of The Year in 2001.

In 2019 it was decided to change the awards back to their intended purpose by reflecting the balance between gender, disability and variety of sports on offer. Due to the pandemic, there were no awards in 2020.

Liliane Landor, Senior Controller of BBC News International Services, says: “BBC African Sports Personality Of The Year is the perfect way to celebrate the wonderful achievements of the most talented sportswomen and men from across the continent.

It has been an unprecedented year for the world of sport and our audiences worldwide will have a tough choice to make.

“This award will build upon BBC Africa’s efforts to promote sport and provide global visibility for African athletes across our platforms.”

Ben Sutherland, Editor, BBC Sport Africa, says: “It’s a great pleasure to announce this prestigious BBC award is returning – and what was once African Footballer Of The Year is now the full Sports Personality – both sport and gender agnostic.

This change reflects how strong and competitive African athletes have become right across the sporting world and it’s illustrated by both the level of talent and the surge of success enjoyed in 2021 by the six candidates on our list.

“We wanted to make sure that the list captured both sporting success – measured by both medals and trophies won – but also with an emphasis on the ‘personality’ part of the title.”

The contenders had the following to say after hearing of their nominations

Eliud Kipchoge – Athletics (Kenya), says: “Thank you for the nomination… That’s a huge motivation for me – to know there are people who are seeing what you are doing outside your training camp, or outside your performance, that they want to honour you. I am so happy to be nominated with my fellow athletes. It is such a great feeling.”

Faith Kipyegon – Athletics (Kenya), says:  “I am so grateful to be nominated as a BBC African Sports Personality Of The Year. It really means something great for me.

I didn’t expect to be nominated, but I’m so grateful. To be nominated motivates us a lot as sportswomen and men. It means we are supported and appreciated. This is something special. Thank you so much!”

Ntando Mahlangu – Para-athletics (South Africa), says: “It’s an honour for me just to be nominated for the award. I definitely think it’s something to be proud of, to be nominated for the [African Sports] Personality Of The Year. We’ve been setting records and now to get that reward back, for people to see the work that has been put in, it’s very special.”

Christine Mboma – Athletics (Namibia), says: “It feels great to be nominated. 2021 was a great season for me.

Winning the Olympic silver medal, the Diamond League final and other key competitions in Europe.”

Édouard Mendy – Football (Senegal), says: “It’s a real pride for me to be nominated in this category for Africa for all that I have also done outside of the continent. So, it’s something that makes me very happy and very proud, of course.”

Tatjana Schoenmaker – Swimming (South Africa), says: “To be nominated for such an award is already an amazing achievement.

I think there are so many athletes that could be nominated for this award, so being one of six, just makes it truly like more, honourable.

I want to say thank you for the awards, and for celebrating us as athletes and just celebrating our achievements.”

Voting information 

Members of the public can vote for African Sports Personality of the year online for free on bbc.co.uk/sport/africa

Voting will open at 05:45 GMT on Monday, 6 December 2021 and closes at 23:59 GMT on Sunday, 19 December 2021. Any votes registered outside the announced voting times will not count.

Further details about the awards, terms and privacy notice are online at bbc.co.uk/sport/africa

Audiences can follow the award on radio through Newsday, Focus on Africa radio/tv on BBC World Service, and on the dedicated pages on bbc.co.uk/sport/africa

Information and updates on the award will also be available on social media on BBC Africa’s Facebook and on Twitter via @bbcafrica. Audiences can get involved by using the hashtag #BBCASPOTY