Bolt to top men, three-way tussle for women's crown
Published: Friday | February 13, 2009
( L - R ) Bolt, Walker
Triple Olympic gold medallist, Usain Bolt, is set to walk away with the 2008 RJR Sports Foundation Sportsman of the Year title tonight at the 48th annual National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards ceremony at The Courtleigh Auditorium.
The function is set to start at 8 o'clock.
It is, however, a three-way tussle for the women's crown among Melaine Walker, winner of the 400 metres hurdles gold in Olympic record time; Veronica Campbell-Brown, who repeated her Athens 200m success and Shelly-Ann Fraser, the country's first gold medal winner in the women's 100m. Walker, who was last month named the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association's 2008 female Athlete of the Year, is the slight favourite for Sportswoman of the Year.
Other male nominees
Bolt, winner of the 100m (9.69), 200m (19.30) and member of Jamaica's 4x100m gold-medal team (37.10), all in record times, heads the list of five men. The other male nominees include Jerome Taylor, who took 24 wickets in six Test matches at an average of 29.79 and scored a century - 106 off 107 balls against New Zealand and Luton Shelton, scorer of seven goals for Jamaica in World Cup qualifying.
Former 100m world-record holder Asafa Powell, who anchored Jamaica to a world record 37.10 in the men's 4x100m relay at the Olympics and Chris Gayle, who scored 451 Test runs with a top score of 197 against New Zealand, are Bolt's other rivals.
The women's side is loaded with medallists from the Beijing Olympics, including Shericka Williams, who produced a 49.69 personal best for silver in the women's 400m and Sherone Simpson, who shared the women's 100m silver with Kerron Stewart, who later took bronze in the 200m. Stafanie Taylor, the Jamaica and West Indies cricketer, is the lone nominee outside of athletics.
New chairman of the RJR Sports Foundation, Chris Dehring, said they were all excited about the night as they looked forward to honouring the athletes.
"It is an awards ceremony to honour our Jamaican athletes. Several athletes will be coming for the event, but some are involved in competitions at the moment and unfortunately, those will not be able to make it," Dehring said.
A People's Choice performance award will be among the highlights of the evening's function. Fraser's 10.78 Olympic effort, Taylor's 106 against New Zealand, Ricardo Fuller's goal against Mexico in World Cup qualifying and Daemon Benjamin's goal for Boys' Town against Arnett Gardens are considered the best performances of 2008.
"We have had very good responses from the public towards the award. In terms of the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the year the selection committee has made their recommendations to the board and the board has ratified the decisions. These recommendations will be announced tonight," Dehring said.