André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
IAAF World Championships standouts Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce topped the list of eight nominees for the RJR Sports Foundation Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards, after yesterday's announcement at The Jamaica Pegasus.
However, it was the absence of top netballer Jhaniele Fowler, that raised several eyebrows after the goal shooter's record-breaking year that saw her getting the MVP nod at the ANZ Championships after breaking the individual (65 goals) and season (666 goals) goalscoring records.
The Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards will be held on January 10 at the same location and will be preceded by a welcome reception a day earlier.
Fowler was not included in the list of Sportswoman of the Year nominees that features IAAF World Female Athlete of the Year and World Championships 100m, 200m and 4x100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce; cricketer Stafanie Taylor; swimmer Alia Atkinson; and boxer Alicia Ashley.
Bolt, who was last month named the IAAF's World Male Athlete of the Year after three World Championships gold medals in Moscow, will go up against 200m silver medallist Warren Weir, 100m bronze medallist Nesta Carter and boxer Nicholas Walters.
The People's Choice Performance of the Year Award, which will be determined by public vote, will be chosen from among Jermaine 'Tuffy' Anderson's last-minute World Cup Qualifier goal against Costa Rica; Javon Francis' 44.00 World Championships silver medal winning 4x400m anchor leg; Dane Nelson's six-timer at Caymanas Park; Khadija Shaw's CFU Under-20 winning goal; and Yanique Thompson's 12.94 World Youth best 100m hurdles win at the World Youth Championships.
Chairman of the selection committee, Mike Fennell, reminded that the panel will consider any outstanding performances and performers leading up to the end of the year, pointed to the criteria and warned against emotional considerations.
"I want to remind everyone of the criteria because this is an area that causes some difficulty, so we try to separate emotion from the criteria used for selection and we have to remind everyone that it's about performance and not effort," Fennell said.
"The criteria that is used, and has been used for some time, clearly sets out the various levels that we consider. Level one is distinguished achievement or honours earned at the Olympics or a recognised World Championships, which can be a comparison to the Olympic Games. To competition that has achieved a record world standard in their sport during the review period," said Fennell, who added that the other levels covered achievements at the Commonwealth and Pan American (level two); Central American and Caribbean (level three) and Local levels.
Physically challenged athletes and those who compete in age group competitions will be recognised separately.
Category awards will be presented to the best male and female athletes from each sport, while the chairman of the RJR Sports Foundation, Gary Allen, will also present a Chairman's Award.
Sagicor will once again be the force behind the Iconic Award with the Inter Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) expected to once again name the top male and female high-school athletes.
"Its always a difficult task. For some, it's a little easier because the criteria is so strict, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to make your selections. We have met on several occasions and examined the material that was collected for us and came up with the nominees," Fennell added. "These nominees will be refined and concluded at the end of the year when we will select the top persons and runners-up."
The RJR Sports Foundation selection committee includes Fennell, Grace Jackson, Michael Hall, Courtney Walsh, Courtney Sergeant, Dr Walton Small and Tony Becca.