Walters, Atkinson head RJR nominees
Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Boxer Nicholas 'Axeman' Walters, swimmer Alia Atkinson headline the list of nominees for the 2014 RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sports-woman of the Year awards.
Walters, the reigning World Boxing Association Super featherweight champion, is joined by Commonwealth Games gold medallists Kemar Bailey-Cole (100m), Rasheed Dwyer (200m), O'Dayne Richards (shot put) and Andrew Riley (110m hurdles).
The 'Axeman' successfully defended his WBA title twice during the year winning both fights by knockouts and is the hot favourite for the men's crown.
Female favourite Atkinson was outstanding in the FINA World Cup Short Course series and equalled the world record in winning 100m breaststroke gold at the World Short Course Swim Championships in Doha last weekend. She also won two medals at the Commonwealth Games - silver in the 50m breaststroke and bronze in the 100m breaststroke.
Spencer, Atkinson's main rival, captured the 400m hurdles gold medal at the Commonwealth Games and dominated the event on the Diamond League circuit during the season.
The other female nominees are track stars Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Novlene Williams-Mills, Stephenie Ann McPherson and Kimberly Williams. Cricketer Stafanie Taylor rounds off the list of eight female nominees.
The People's Choice Perfor-mance of the Year nominees are Atkinson, Andrew Gutzmore, Jaheel Hyde, Kemar Lawrence, André Russell and Walters.
The winners of the sportsman and sportswoman awards will be announced at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on January 16, 2015.
Gary Allen, chairman of the RJR Sports Foundation, said the awards have grown tremendously since they took over the stewardship from Carreras in 2005.
"I am very proud of the fact that we have had eight female nominees and five male nominees," said Allen while speaking at the launch of the event at The Jamaica Pegasus yesterday.
"It is one of those years that it is not an Olympic year and it is not a year for World Championships, and so the broad set of Olympic sports and the set of track and field domination is not there," he said.
Allen added: "But you have had good competition in swimming, you have had good results in boxing, and we have seen a lot happening in other areas, and we are pleased about that.
Grace Jackson, deputy chairman of the selection committee, said it is going to be very difficult to select this year's winners because they will have to look at every single detail of each nominee's performances throughout the year.
"On a year like this year when you had the Commonwealth Games to be the top world event and then you had the world championships for the different sports, it becomes more difficult, than when you have an Olympic Games year," said Jackson.