– Planning for 2024 event well under way –
8 November 2023 – Race Director of the aQuellé Midmar Mile Wayne Riddin has said he was honoured to be named Coach of the Year at the KwaZulu-Natal Sports Awards but what made the accolade even sweeter was sharing the stage with his swimmers.
Four-time race winner at the aQuellé Midmar Mile and two-time Paralympian Alani Ferreira was named Sportswoman of the Year with a disability for a fifth time along with para-surfer Tracy McKay, while former Pietermaritzburg-based swimmer Matt Sates, who trained under Riddin, was named Sportsman of the Year at the ceremony held in Durban over the weekend.
While under Riddin’s coaching, Sates qualified for his first Olympic Games in 2021, won the overall World Cup series title that same year and then went on to win gold and bronze at the World Short Course Championships in Melbourne in 2022.
“I was humbled and honoured to receive the award after a third nomination in this category,” said Riddin, who apart from coaching numerous Olympic and Paralympic swimmers has been organising the aQuellé Midmar Mile for over 30 years.
Riddin has been a swimming coach for 45 years and holds the distinction of being the only coach in South Africa to have produced an Olympic representative at every Games since Barcelona 1992.
“Obviously you don’t do it for the awards or accolades, but it’s always nice when the years of hard work are recognised,” he said. “What was even more special though was Alani winning the Sportswoman of the Year with a disability award. I’m very proud of what she has achieved in her career already and we are looking forward to what she can do at the Paris Paralympics next year.
“Matt’s performances in Melbourne gave me my first World Championship gold medal from a swimmer who came through my age group programme from as young as eight years year old. For him to be just 0,52 seconds off the world record has been the highlight of my coaching career and motivates me to hopefully get my leading juniors to Paris next year,” he added.
Ferreira said: “Obviously just to be a finalist is an honour. I’m always very proud to represent not just women, but disability and disabled women in sport so it really is an amazing thing to be able to even just be there… Obviously having Wayne winning Coach of the Year was also a validation of all the hard work he’s done to get me to where I am so it really was an incredible awards – a full circle moment with everyone being there and being recognised for all the hard work over the years.”
Meanwhile, planning for the 2024 aQuellé Midmar Mile is well under way with entries for the 8-11 February event having opened last month. The first of the seeding swims took place last weekend at Prime View Adventure & Leisure in Midrand, with the second scheduled for the same venue from 2-3 December and the third from 20-21 January 2024.
“This year’s aQuellé Midmar Mile was an incredible event as we celebrated our 50th anniversary. Next year we are planning another blockbuster weekend of activity for the whole family and encourage swimmers to get their entries in as soon as possible to be part of the fun,” said Riddin.
For more information and to enter the aQuellé Midmar Mile, head to www.midmarmile.co.za.