Alia, 'Axeman' ace 2014 RJR national sports awards
Andre Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Boxer, Nicholas 'The Axeman' Walters, and swimming star, Alia Atkinson, have been added to the hallowed corridors of Jamaican sporting heritage, after coming out on top at the 54th RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards during a function at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
Walters and Atkinson attained the feat three days after receiving a Gleaner Special Award and Honour Award, respectively, for Sports.
Atkinson also received the people’s choice award based on popular votes.
"When we achieve greatness, everyone in Jamaica achieves it with us," she said, reiterating that when youths have fallen they are to be nurtured and brought back up.
For Walters, the award is most significant: "Getting sports man of the year is like getting sports man of the world," he said.
Tonight, she and Walters entered the grandiose ballroom as the overwhelming favourites for the top awards and left a few hours later clutching the island’s highest sporting accolade – ending a run of 40 years since a non-track and field athlete has won either of the top awards.
Back then swimmer, Belinda Phillip, was named the top sportswoman with cricketer, Lawrence Rowe, taking the male award.
Four hundred metre hurdling standout, Kaliese Spencer, fresh from what has been one of the most dominating seasons by an athlete, was named as runner-up for the national sportswoman award.
History-maker O’Dayne Richards, ensured that the ‘oval office’ had its say, after being named Sportsman of the Year runner up.
Female boxer, Alicia Ashley's receipt of the Chairman’s Award delivered the knockout on what was a big night for the sport, with legendary sprinter Donald Quarrie being this year’s recipient for the Sagicor Iconic Award.
More on the top winners
Alia Atkinson is only the third swimmer to win the Sportswoman of the Year Award after Frances Noble (1968) and Belinda Phillip (1974).
Now considered one of the best on the planet after her record-equaling (1:02.36) and gold medal performance at the FINA World Short Course Championships last year, Atkinson, also made social strides, becoming the second black woman to hold a world record and first to hold a world title.
WATCH: Alia Atkinson arrives home to golden welcome
For Walters, it was all coming full circle, and the sport of boxing, with the hard-talking and equally hard-hitting featherweight winning the sportsman of the year award, 54 years after George ‘Bunny’ Grant became the award’s first recipient in 1961.
Walters was again successful in defending his WBA World Featherweight title, beating both Vic Darchinyan of Armenia with a fifth round knockout and Nonito Donaire with a technical knockout in the sixth round – the latter earning him global acclaim and the WBA Super World Featherweight title.
The fighter has not tasted defeat in his 25 professional fights.
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