Michael Frater takes Courtney Walsh Award
... Hyde, Whyte win junior awards at landmark ceremony
After missing out last year, veteran Jamaican sprinter Michael Frater on Thursday became the 10th recipient of the Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence in Sport in a light-toned and emotion-rich ceremony at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.
It was also an extra special occasion for Walsh - the West Indian cricketing legend, in whose honour the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund-supported award was named, a decade after former Prime Minister P.J Patterson conceptualised the honour.
The award is designed to pay homage to Jamaican sporting representatives who have not only excelled in competition but who have also shown exemplary human qualities.
Frater, who had to miss Thursday's ceremony after being affected by the chikungunya virus, has played a key role in several of Jamaica's gold medal-winning 4x100m relay teams, and was the 100m World Championship silver medallist in 2005.
The sprinter helped Jamaica win 4x100m gold at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2002, and again in 2006 in Manchester. He has won two Olympic and two World Championships gold medals, all coming at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics, and the 2009 and 2011 World Championships in Berlin and Daegu, respectively.
As part of the Jamaican 4x100m team that set the World and Olympic records at the London Olympics, Frater split 8.9 seconds on his customary second leg, surpassed that night by the phenomenal Usain Bolt, the 100m and 200m world record holder who clocked 8.8 seconds on the anchor leg.
In a message read by Laurel Smith, a member of his management set-up, Frater noted: "I accept this award with profound appreciation for the board of CHASE and Ambassador Walsh, I accept your applause, but I ask respectfully that you rather salute the pioneers and the unsung men and women who have given all of us a birthright of which we can be justly proud."
An emotional Walsh lauded the nominees, which included Novlene Williams-Mills, Tsetsi Davis and Romelda Aiken and underlined the focus of the awards.
"It's been 10 years. I didn't expect it (awards) to be so strong still, but it's testament to the work that was put in. It was the first time that I have been emotional for a while and I'm extremely proud to be associated with this award," said Walsh.
Jaheel Hyde, who helped Wolmer's Boys to the Walker Cup titles in 2012 and 2013 while winning gold medals in the 110m hurdles and 400m hurdles at the World Youth and World Junior championships, was named as the student athlete recipient.
Hyde this year won the 110m hurdles title at the Youth Olympics in a record 12.96 seconds and also passed eight subjects in his external examination.
The female student athlete recipient was St Jago's Natalliah Whyte, who became Jamaica's first female gold medallist at the Youth Olympics, winning the 200m. She also has seven CSEC passes.
Both schools received $250,000 cash prizes, courtesy of Supreme Ventures Limited, towards a school project.
In her remarks, which, in her absence were read by government minister Robert Pickersgill, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller praised Walsh and his contribution to local sports.