André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Superstar athletes Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce are expected to add to their post-season accolades, as the RJR Sports Foundation names the top Sportsman and Sportswoman of the year at tonight's 52nd staging of the glitzy award ceremony.
Set for The Jamaica Pegasus, the National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards - the island's premier sporting tribute, is expected to follow in the path of the recently staged Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association Golden Cleats Award, which was claimed by the two Olympic stars.
Bolt, who successfully defended his 100m and 200m titles at the Olympic Games will be up against training partners and fellow Olympic medalist Yohan Blake and Warren Weir, Nickel Ashmeade, Hansle Parchment along with West Indies cricket stars Marlon Samuels and Christopher Gayle.
The sprinting legend also helped Jamaica to a world record 36.84 in the 4x100m and claimed the 100m IAAF/Samsung Diamond League prize to round out another dominant year.
His greatest challenge will come from ICC World Twenty20 Championships star Marlon Samuels, who played a major role in the West Indies triumph, scoring the third highest run total (230), the second most sixes (15) and the sixth highest individual score (78) while making valuable contributions with the ball and in the field as well.
Samuels has been one of the most consistent performers for the West Indies this year and is one of the most feared players on the Twenty20 circuit.
On the female side, last year's winner Veronica Campbell Brown, along with Diamond League 400m hurdles winner Kaliese Spencer, boxer Alicia Ashley, cricketer Stafanie Taylor and Olympian and World Short Course Championships double silver medallist Alia Atkinson join Fraser-Pryce among the nominees.
However, with a successful defence of her Olympics 100m title, a silver medal in her first 200m attempt at a major championships also at the Olympics, 4x100m silver and a Diamond League 100m title under her belt, the diminutive sprinter is a shoo-in for top honours.
Fraser-Pryce, who also posted a new 100m national record (10.70) en route to winning the 100m national title, also closed out the sprint double at the trials, powering to a win in the 200m as well.
Importance of ceremony
Chairman of the selection committee Mike Fennell told The Gleaner that it was a difficult task arriving at the winners, while underlining the importance of the ceremony.
"Its always a difficult task because everybody knows that Jamaica has some top performers particularly in the sport of athletics, but we also have some top performers in the sport of boxing, swimming and cricket, so we have to ensure that we have a balance and select objectively based on the criteria," said Fennell.
"The criteria is based on performance, not on effort or any sort of emotive elements, strictly on performance and it starts at the world level such as World Championships and Olympics. The next level is continental and then regional and of course the domestic level," Fennell added. "Overall, it is important for us to ensure that our athletes know that we recognise and appreciate them."
The selection committee also includes Grace Jackson, Dr Walton Small, Courtney Sergeant, Michael Hall and Tony Becca.
The nominees for the People's Choice Award, which will be decided by the public are Atkinson, Samuels, André Russell, footballer Jermaine Hue and track athlete Tiffany James.
Captain Horace Burrell, president of Jamaica Football Federation, Glen Mills, president of the Racers Track Club, and Kay Wilson of the Jamaica Hockey Federation have all been nominated for the Sagicor Iconic Award. Sagicor will be donating $200,000 to the charity chosen by the winner of the award.
Other presentations that will be made on the night include certificates of merit awards and team awards.
Legendary West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding will be the guest speaker at this year's event which is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.