On Saturday, the University of Tennesee’s Michael Houlie came first in his individual races and on Sunday, he was named Best Sports Newcomer at the South African Sports Awards.
The sports awards, which aims to recognise the best South African sports persons, was held on Sunday at the Durban Playhouse Theatre in eThekwini, Kwazulu Natal.
The 19 year old Michael is currently studying at the University of Tennessee where he is one its star sophomore breaststroke swimmers.
Competing on the US college swimming scene, he has been on a hot streak, winning most of his races, his most recent on Saturday against Georgia Tech.
He came first in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke, hitting the wall with a time of 53.21 seconds and 1:58.43 minutes respectively.
Last month, he broke the winning the streak of the University of Louisville by beating Evgenii Somov and taking first place in the 100 breast with a time of 53.09.
At that same event, he took 2nd place in the 200 breast with the first place going to his 100 breast nemesis, Evgenii Somov.
Michael could not be in South Africa to accept the award in person.
He is currently in the US, focusing on his studies and preparing for next year’s Olympic trials
He is however “grateful and thankful for this award”, thanking the Department of Sports and Culture, SA Sport, SA Swimming and SASCOC.
“I have been supported by so many on this journey …Coaches, Physio’s, Team-mates and my family, especially my parents,” says Michael.
He adds that he is “always thankful to God, who loves me irrespective of my swimming achievements”.
As a young athlete who is still ‘building his experience in the senior ranks’, he describes the Newcomer Award as “an inspiration to keep pressing on and reaching for more”
He says that the award is also important for swimming in South Africa.
“I hope that it will inspire young swimmers from previously disadvantaged backgrounds,” says Michael.
His parents, Sam and Colleen, added that they are “similarly grateful for the award and the recognition of Michael’s hard work in the pool”.