'Help them to become world beaters'
Three-time RJRGLEANER National Sportswoman of the Year, Alia Atkinson has called for more support for Jamaican athletes who are striving to become world beaters.
Speaking after she captured her third title at a glittering awards function at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Friday night, the 30-year-old swimmer said that a lot more emphasis should be placed on improving the lives of the country's athletes in their quest to achieve greatness.
"My vision is that sports associations will have as their primary goal the support and funding of their athletes so that these athletes will be able to represent their country based on their God-given talent and work ethic and not get left behind because of the lack of funds," said Atkinson.
"I envision a day when our athletes don't have to worry to pay for their sporting equipment or a day when we don't have to pay to get our way to competitions," she said. "We love our athletes, but we can do more, and athletes can do more," Atkinson said.
She added: "I envision a day when we will be the example of the Caribbean, not solely based on the popularity of sports or athletes, but on the management, communication, and transparency of our associations and federations."
Atkinson, who had an outstanding year last season, where she broke her own world record in the 50m breaststroke at the FINA World Cup, collected two other major awards at the function. These were the Gleaner Iconic Award and the People's Choice 'Performance of the Year' Award for her world-record swim.
There was a tie for the Sportswoman of the Year runner-up spot with triple jumper Kimberly Williams and shot-putter Danniel Thomas-Dodd sharing the honour after both won gold at the Commonwealth Games and silver at the World Indoor Championships in their respective events.
Fedrick Dacres took home the Sportsman of the Year trophy after an outstanding season last year. The runner-up was 110m hurdler Ronald Levy, the national champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
Dacres was elated after collecting his prize.
"I feel good because I am the top sportsman for last year and so I am just thankful," said Dacres.
REAPING THE REWARDS
"A lot of hard work went into this and I am just reaping the rewards," said Dacres while adding that he also plans to break the national record this season.
"I am always trying to go for the national record, and so, yes, I will be going for it again this season," he said.
After breaking his own national record with a throw of 69.67m, Dacres' year went from strength to strength as he won the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal in his event before taking the diamond for discus on the IAAF Diamond League circuit and NACAC gold in Toronto, Canada.
In other top awards handed out on Friday night, Reggae Girl Jody Brown was presented with the Youth Award for her outstanding performances during Jamaica's successful qualification for the FIFA Women's World Cup in France while Jamaica Chess Federation President Ian Wilkinson was selected by Gary Allen, chairman of the RJRGLEANER Sports Foundation and CEO of the RJRGLEANER Group, for the very prestigious Chairman's Award.