Photo Credit: On File

The Amayanga-Yanga Athlete of the Year award recognises young athletes who have displayed exceptional performances in their respective sport and show great promise for the future.


Johannesburg, South Africa (20 February 2023) – On Saturday, 18 February 2023, the 11th annual Gauteng Sports Awards took place and 12-year-old chess prodigy, Caleb Levitan, walked away with the Amayanga-Yanga Athlete of the Year award.

The Gauteng Sports Awards is hosted by the Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation to recognise and honour the province’s sports stars for their efforts in local and international sports events and keeping the passion of sport alive in the hearts of South Africans. An independent panel led the 2022 awards adjudication process made up of experienced individuals in sports, media and academia.

The Amayanga-Yanga Athlete of the Year award recognises young athletes who have displayed exceptional performances in their respective sport and show great promise for the future.

Caleb said, “It really is an honour to receive this award. I hold the other nominees in high esteem. Ultimately, I am really happy that chess is being valued and recognised as a sport. Not many people know the physical and mental stamina needed to play games of four or five hours at a time. The training and competing schedules are in line with any athlete training competitively. I am proud to represent the sport and I am really grateful to my parents, coaches, school and the chess federation for helping me reach this point”.

This is not the first of Caleb’s noteworthy achievements in his field. In a career spanning six years to date, he has received his Junior Springbok colours and has represented South Africa at chess tournaments around the world. In 2022, the King David Sandton Primary School student was awarded an international chess title by FIDE when he achieved a FIDE rating of 2000 – the youngest South African player to win the title by achieving this rating.

12-Year-Old South African Chess Prodigy Wins Athlete of the Year Award
Photo Cred: Gauteng Sports Awards

Caleb and his twin brother, Judah, were six years old when their father taught them how to play chess. The brothers showed immense promise and passion for the game and have built up an impressive resume over the years.

In August 2018, the then seven-year-olds tied for first place at the African Youth Chess Championship in Kisumu, Kenya, to become the first South Africans to win the Under-8 age group of that tournament. At a tournament in Spain three months later, Caleb broke the South African record in a world chess competition when he achieved a score of 7.5/11 at the World Cadet Chess Championships He was recognised as South Africa’s Junior Chess Player of the Year for this achievement.

Judah and Caleb are the current Under 12 and Under 16 South African Chess Champions. They have played against American grandmasters Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So and Levon Aronian – honours for any chess player.

Caleb hopes to inspire other young chess players in South Africa along his journey and through his achievements.

Sources: Caleb Levitan
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