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Bolt, SFP set to top RJR Awards

Published:Friday | January 15, 2016 | 12:00 AMAndre Lowe
Fraser-Pryce
Usain Bolt
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When the RJR Sports Foundation announces speedsters Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce as the 2015 recipients of the National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the year awards at tonight's ceremony at The Jamaica Pegasus, it will hardly come as a surprise to many.

Likewise, considering the year they both had, shot put strongman O'Dayne Richards - last year's runner-up and sprint hurdles world champion Danielle Williams are sure to get hearty receptions, as they head the candidates seeking the runner-up spots.

Richards struggled on the Diamond League circuit before coming to life at the Pan American Games in Toronto, where his national record heave of 21.69m won him a gold medal. He would repeat the mark a few weeks later at the World Championships in Beijing, to take the bronze and become Jamaica's first medallist in the event at that level.

Hansle Parchment's World Championships silver medal in the 110m hurdles also makes him a strong contender for the runner-up spot. Additionally, the towering hurdler is the first Jamaican to win a silver medal in the 110m hurdles in senior-level global competition, given his result - like Richards', considerable historical significance.

He might, and dare we say, should, however, be edged out by Richards' back-to-back national record efforts.

Williams, flying

below the radar

On the female side, Williams, flying below the radar in every pre-championships predictions, delivered when it mattered most in winning the gold medal in the 100m hurdles at the World Championships.

That was a massive result for the pint-sized hurdler, who returned the gold to Jamaica after Brigitte Foster-Hylton's win at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.

It should be enough to see her across the line - behind Fraser-Pryce, with some other top contenders such as World Championships 200m silver and 4x100m gold medal winner Elaine Thompson; boxer Alicia Ashley, who successfully defended her WBC super bantamweight title; World Championships bronze and relay gold medal winners - Shericka Jackson (400m and 4x400m); Veronica Campbell-Brown (200m and 4x100m); and ever-present swimmer Alia Atkinson (50m breaststroke silver and national record as well as 100m breaststroke bronze at the FINA World Championships plus a year-ending number-three world ranking in the 50m breaststroke, all presenting strong claims.

Little doubt, however, as to who will spend tonight as the country's top male and female sporting stars.

Save for some major surprises, speed-king Bolt will win his sixth National Sportsman of the Year title.

This will give him sole command of the second-place spot in the all-time list, which is headed by boxer Michael McCallum, who punched his way to seven titles.

Bolt shook off a rusty start to his season to win World Championships gold medals in the 100m (with the third-fastest time in World Championships final history - 9.79), the 200m and as a member of Jamaica's 4x100m relay team.

Last year's nod to Atkinson was the first time a non-track-and-field athlete won the Sportswoman of the Year award since 1976, when cricketer Vivalyn Latty-Scott won the award.

Fraser-Pryce, who won this award in 2012 and 2013, won gold medals in the 100m and 4x100m at the World Championships as well as took the 100m title in the IAAF Diamond League series.