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'Only the best for Jamaica's best' - Chairman lauds growth of RJRGLEANER National Sportsman, Sportswoman Awards

Published:Wednesday | November 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMRobert Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Gary Allen (second left); chairman, RJRGLEANER Sports Foundation, makes a point to (from left) Mike Fennell, chairman, Selection Committee; Deon Hemmings-McCatty, member of the Selection Committee; Devon Barrett, investment officer and CEO, VM Wealth Management, Victoria Mutual Building Society; and Clement ‘Jimmy’ Lawrence, chairman, J. Wray & Nephew Limited, during the Media Launch of the RJRGLEANER National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday. Ian allen/Photographer

Chairman of the RJRGLEANER Sports Foundation Gary Allen says that he is impressed with the growth and development of the foundation's National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards since the beginning of its association with the event 12 years ago.

Twelve nominees - eight women and four men - were announced yesterday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, with the nation's top sporting personalities set to be announced at a glitzy ceremony at the same venue on January 18, 2019.

Discus thrower Fedrick Dacres and swimming sensation Alia Atkinson headline the list of male and female nominees for this year's awards.

Allen said that the awards have been very successful over the years and noted that the organisers are looking forward to another successful staging of the event.

"I think every year, we have tried to improve something, and every year, we have seen improvement, and I believe that we have a stellar event that we should all be proud of," said Allen.

The chairman also lauded the selection committee, which is guided by veteran administrator Mike Fennell, for its outstanding work over the years. Of note, the committee is expecting to meet over the next few days to consider two additional nominees.

Atkinson, who won the award last year, will be aiming for her third title, after also claiming top honours in 2014, after another outstanding year, winning eight gold medals at the 2018 FINA World Cup.

The history-making swimmer is joined among the female nominations by Commonwealth champion and World Indoor silver medal winner Danniel Thomas-Dodd and Reggae Girlz striker Khadija Shaw, who netted 19 goals to help Jamaica qualify for next year's FIFA Women's World in France.

The other female nominees are Aisha Praught-Leer, national steeplechase record holder

and reigning Commonwealth champion; triple jump pair Kimberly Williams, who also won silver at the World Indoors and gold at the Commonwealth Games as well as Commonwealth silver medal winner Shanieka Ricketts; Janieve Russell, another gold medallist at the Common-wealth Games, and West Indies Women cricket captain Stafanie Taylor complete the list.

Dacres, who won gold at this year's Commonwealth Games in the discus event with a Games Record of 68.20 metres, is a sure bet for the Sportsman of the Year crown.

The 24-year-old, who is seeking his first award, won the Diamond League title during a dominant 2018, which also includes wins at the CAC Games and the NACAC Championships.

Chris Binnie, who won silver and bronze medals at the Pan Am and CAC games respectively, Ronald Levy, the 2018 Commonwealth Games 110m hurdles champion and CAC shot put champion and NACAC bronze medallist O'Dayne Richards are the other male nominees.

Atkinson also leads the People's Choice Award nominations for her world record swim in the 50m breaststroke at the FINA Short Course World Cup, with the Reggae Girlz's World Cup qualification, Andre Russell's miracle catch in the Caribbean Premier League, 16 year-old Briana Williams' 100m gold medal run at the World Under-20 Championships and Nico Yeyo's 21 seconds Contender TKO being the other nominees for the award, which is to be decided by public vote.