Photo: Jamaican Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year 2016 - Usain Bolt and Elaine Thompson pose for photos after being crowned at the 56th staging of the RJR National Sportsman and Sportswoman Awards Ceremony, held at the Pegasus Hotel on Friday night.
The 2016 sports year brought Jamaicans many wonderful memories and on Friday night the sports men and women who gave us much to smile about were rewarded at the 56th staging RJR National Sportsman and Sportswoman Awards Ceremony, held at the Pegasus Hotel.
The ceremony was hosted by TVJ’s Dahlia Harris and Neville Bell. The guest speaker on the night was International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) newly elected CEO Olivier Gers.
National and 2016 double sprint Olympic champions, Elaine Thompson and Usain Bolt were inevitably crowned Athletes of the Year, both accepting their awards with speeches to encourage and express their gratitude to fans and their support team.
Thompson, who received her first national Sportswoman award gave credit to her coach who believed in her talent and spent his time to develop her to where she is at presently.
"It definitely is an honour to win my first RJR Sportswoman of the Year award. To be amongst such a fantastic group of super talented ladies and to come out on top is really a privilege and an honour. I will cherish this award the best I can and look forward to winning more awards.” Thompson told Yardie sports.
Swimming sensation Alia Atkinson, who capped a very good season, with a full suit of medals at the 2016 World Short Course Championship and outstanding showing on the World Short Course Series, walked away with the runner-up award for Sportswoman.
A gracious Atkinson expressed her shock and delight at being bestowed such award.
“I am still surprised, pretty much to be up here with such a great bunch of ladies. I am very grateful that I can be putting Jamaica on the map in swimming and knowing that they recognize that, is a good feeling” Atkinson explained.
Bolt walked away of his 7th National Sportsman award, surpassing the previous record held by Boxer Michael McCallum. Despite him mentioning his lack of preparedness for a speech, Bolt used the occasion to encourage all young aspiring children to work hard in their various career paths.
“I am from Trelawny and I never thought I would ever be where I am tonight. I say to all you kids out there, whatever it is you want to be, doctor or lawyer or an athlete, don’t give up on your dreams. I never gave up and I kept working hard and look at me now,” Bolt expressed.
World indoor 60m hurdles champion and Olympic sprint hurdles champion Omar McLeod received the runner up Sportsman award 2016.
“It’s a great feelings to be amongst the nominees, top athletes like Bolt. I am definitely walking away a blessed man, knowing my country has recognized me for my hard work,” McLeod said.
There were numerous other national and international accolades handed out on the night
The People’s Choice performance Award went to high school prodigy, Calabar’s Christopher Taylor for his phenomenal 2016 Boys champs performances in the 4x400 relays, reeling in Kingston College’s Akeem Bloomfield, and winning the final event to seal his team's championship win.
The Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) Inaugural Y.O.U.T.H award went to St Andrew’s Girls and national Triathlon athlete Lori Sharpe who made national history in an outstanding season, which included her competing at the World Junior Championships in Mexico where she placed 18th out of 56 competitors. She pocketed $250,000 cash prize and VMBS Trophy for her achievements during 2016.
Special awards for individual Performance for 2016 - Tiffany James - Flawlessly executing a masterful race strategy, to win Jamaica's first ever female junior or senior 400m global gold medal, at the World U-20 Championship. Jaheel Hyde also was rewarded for the defence of his 400m hurdles crown at the same championship.
Junelle Broomfield, Shannon Kalawan, Rushell Burton and Nigel Ellis were also awarded for their performances. Both 4x400m teams also received recognition for the performance at the games.
400m Olympic Bronze medallist, Shericka Jackson, 100m bronze medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Alia Atkinson record equalling and breaking swims, diver Yona Knight Wisdom, cricketers Stafanie Taylor, Chris Gayle and Andre Russell, McLeod, Thompson and Bolt all received award for their individual achievements in 2016.
Special awards for Team Performance – The Under 16 national Netball and International colleigate netball teams were recognized for the achievements in 2016.
School Boy and School Girl Awards- St Georges Footballer Alex Marshall, Denham Town’s footballer Tiana Wilson, St. Elizabeth Technical’s Junelle Broomfield and Holmwood Technical’s netballer Shanniel Davidson - were all recipient of awards for their talents and display on the field of play.
Sagicor Iconic Award 2016 – Coach Stephenson Francis- The head coach of the MVP track club, which produced the likes of Bridgette Foster-Hylton, Melaine Walker, Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson was dully recognized for his body of work with the nations and world finest track and field talents.
Chairman’s Award – Wayne Dacosta – In 2015 he became winningest trainer in the history of the sport, copping 15 championships. To add to that he has won numerous Derby and also the first two stagings of the Diamond Mile, last year with Seeking My Dream. With the filly Thornbird, War Zone who won the Triple Crown, Mr Sensational, Blast Them Away, Little Country Boy, Seeking My Dream, Perfect Neighbour, Good Prospect, Poker Star , Dacosta is one of the most decorated trainer in Horse racing history and added to his achievements the 2016 Chairman’s award
Special Lifetime Award- Mike Fennell – Former Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation; President of the Jamaica Olympic Association; Vice-President, Pan American Sports Organisation; Chairman, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme in Jamaica; Chairman, University of the West Indies Placement Career Services Board; Member, The Public Services Commission and several times head of delegation on Jamaica Olympic and World Championship Games was awarded the prestigious International Lifetime award.