Andre Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
AS EXPECTED, the world's top athletes - Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce - walked away with top honours at yesterday's Scotiabank/Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) Golden Cleats Awards.
While Bolt and Fraser-Pryce continue to rake in post-season accolades, they were not the only ones placed on a proverbial pedestal at the function held at the Terra Nova Hotel. Top youth stars Christoffe Bryan and Yanique Thompson - who received two awards - also shared the limelight.
Bolt and Fraser-Pryce, who both won a trio of gold medals at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow earlier this year, also created history by becoming the first Jamaican pair to win simultaneous IAAF World Athlete of the Year awards at last month's Grand Gala in Monaco.
So there was no surprise when chairman of the JAAA Awards Committee, Bernard Panton, made the announcement in front of an audience which featured track and field officials, insiders, athletes and representatives from sponsors Scotiabank, which have been backing the JAAA's top prize for four years.
While Bolt was not around to collect his award, Fraser-Pryce took the opportunity to highlight the exploits of the young standouts.
"2014 was an extraordinary year for our athletes. It saw us winning many medals at the junior and senior levels and it goes to show that the future of track and field in Jamaica is bright. I will be looking forward to an extraordinary year with these young athletes as they continue to dominate," said Fraser-Pryce, in reference to the likes of IAAF World Youth stars Bryan, Thompson, Michael O'Hara, Jaheel Hyde, Martin Manley and Marvin Williams, who helped Jamaica to a historic table-topping performance at the championships held in Donetsk, Ukraine, earlier this year.
She noted: "It's good for them to understand that hard work and perseverance and also having the right mindset when it comes to your education and having both in terms of becoming future champions on and off the track."
Bryan, a sixth former at Wolmer's Boys', already has passes in eight subjects and harbours hopes of becoming a physiotherapist. The World Youth Championships high jump bronze medallist received one of two Scotiabank/Howard Aris scholarships, valued at $250,000 each, for his academic and athletic performance.
Holmwood Technical's Yanique Thompson, who has external passes in seven subjects already, was the toast of the function following her World Youth best 12.94 seconds, gold-medal winning 100m hurdles performance in Ukraine.
Thompson also received the Scotiabank/Howard Aris Scholarship, as well as the JAAA/Howard Aris Award for non-traditional events.
Racers Track Club head coach and president, Glen Mills, was named Coach of the Year.