Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Williams-Mills wins Walsh Award

Published:Saturday | October 17, 2015 | 10:00 AMMarc Stamp
Former Jamaica and West Indies cricket captain Courtney Walsh (centre) looks on as Natalie Neita-Headley, minister without portfolio with responsibility for sports, presents Novlene Williams-Mills with the 11th annual Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Thursday night.

Four-time national 400 metres champion Novlene Williams-Mills is the 11th winner of the prestigious Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence.

The announcement was made at a ceremony at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Thursday night.

Williams-Mills walked away with the award ahead of fellow nominees Rodolph Austin, captain of the Reggae Boyz; national netball representative Sasher-Gaye Henry; and many-time national chess champion Warren Elliott.

"I will cherish this award for all my life because I know that I have worked hard. So thanks to everyone who has supported me over the years," an emotional Williams-Mills said after accepting her award and cash incentive.

"It is truly a honour to be recognised for hard work. Champions and winners were not created overnight, but through years of work," she said.

Williams-Mills hails from the Gravel Hill community in St Ann and has kept Jamaica's name at the forefront of international competition in the 400 metres.

She ran a brilliant anchor leg as Jamaica won the 4x400 metres gold medal at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.

The performance reflected the character and determination of the athlete as she had been below her usually high standard all season while battling fitness concerns.

In 2012, Williams-Mills was diagnosed with breast cancer, but instead of quitting the track she battled on and her gold medal in Beijing was a fitting reward.

Natalie Neita-Headley, minister without portfolio with responsibility for sports, spoke at Thursday's function in the absence of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.

Neita-Headley spoke of the importance of the award and encouraged all youngsters to aspire for greatness.

"We are working on improving the infrastructure for sports in Jamaica in order to gain more recognition in other sports," Neita-Headley stated..

"You do not have to win to bring honour to your school but you must bring your best effort," Neita-Headley said.

Meanwhile Junelle Bromfield of St Elizabeth Technical and Javauni Garwood of Wolmer's Boys copped the Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence student awards.