Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Super eight! - RJR names stars for top sports awards

Published:Friday | December 16, 2016 | 12:03 AMRobert Bailey
Michael Fennel (right), chairman, RJR Sorts Foundation Selection Committee, in discussion with Gary Allen, chairman, RJR Sports Foundation and CEO of the RJR-Gleaner Group during the launch of the RJR National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday.

Just eight names were announced yesterday as nominees for the RJR Sports Foundation's National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards set for January 13, 2017.

However, chairman of the selection committee Mike Fennell pointed to the committee's "strict criteria" for the small number of nominees this year even as chairman of the Foundation Gary Allen, highlighted the event's remarkable growth over the years.

Triple Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt heads the list of three male nominees compared to last year's five, while Rio sprint double champion Elaine Thompson topped the list of six female nominees. There were eight in 2015.

"This is what the performances indicate, and based on that, we are not lowering the bar to go to other events because it starts at the world level," said Fennell at yesterday's launch at, he Jamaica Pegasus. "The year was dominated by the Olympic Games for individual performances. There are other performances where people were a part of relay teams, and so those people will get special awards."

Fennell added: "It will be good if we had more in many other sports. It would be ideal, of course, if we had half a dozen different sports on the nomination list, but we have ways to go with those other sports in getting to the world level."

The other male nominees are Olympic 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod and West Indies cricketer Marlon Samuels.

The remaining female nominees are track stars Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson, swimmer Alia Atkinson, and female cricketer Stafanie Taylor.

The cut-off date for possible additions is December 31.

Allen noted that the committee has to look at ways to increase the accommodation for the awards ceremony because of the huge demands.

"We now have an event were the demand is outstripping our ability to accommodate people here at The Pegasus," Allen said.

Last year, he said more than 500 people were in attendance and some were even turned back.

"We don't want to do that, and so for the last couple of years, we have been looking around and saying, is there a way we can influence potential venues to step up to another level in terms of us being able to expand the numbers," Allen said, noting that many of those with interest in the ceremony are key players in sports in Jamaica.

The Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) Youth Award will be a new addition to this year's award ceremony.

This award will focus on athletes considered to be not only new talent, but also those who are not professional, meaning they do not earn a living from their sporting discipline. Each nominee must be under 21 years old.

According to Vivienne Bayley-Hay, director of marketing and corporate affairs at VMBS, the award is going to recognise Jamaica's "next Usain Bolt or Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce".

"We think the winner can come from any sport. One of the things that was tremendous in the Rio Olympics is the fact that we have expanded the sporting disciplines that Jamaica was represented in."

"I think that with the talent we have in this country, if we continue to support and to recognise them, I have no doubt that Jamaica will excel in all disciplines.

No nominees for the award have been named as yet. Bayley-Hay said the nominees will be selected closer towards the end of the year.

Bahamian Olympian Pauline Davis-Thompson would be the guest speaker at this year's awards ceremony.

Other awards include the Chairman's award, the People's Choice award, and the Lifetime Achievement award.

The nominees for the People's Choice awards are Atkinson's 50m short-course breaststroke world record swim; Calabar's 4x400m Open relay win at Boys and Girls Championships; Michael Binns' 35-yard goal in the Premier League; Elaine Thompson's 200m run in Rio, and Yona Knight-Wisdom's series of dives at the Olympics.

 

NOMINEES:

 

(Sportsman of the Year)

Usain Bolt

Omar McLeod

Marlon Samuels

(Sportswoman of the Year)

Alia Atkinson

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Elaine Thompson

Shericka Jackson

Stafanie Taylor