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Jamaica Celebrates Top Athletes

Jamaica Celebrates Top Athletes

Posted by Shanelle Weir on January 16, 2015

The prestigious RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards will take place tonight at the Pegasus Hotel with boxer Nicholas Walters and swimmer Alia Atkinson touted to be likely winners.

The 2014 Sports Awards is a landmark one for the RJR Foundation as it will be the 10th year that it is staging the event since 2005 when it took over the stewardship from the Carreras Sports Foundation.

This is actually the 53rd year of the Awards that started one year prior to Jamaica gaining Independence in 1962. That year, the first winners were table tennis player Joy Foster and boxer George 'Bunny' Grant.

Since then, the track and field disciplines have dominated the awards -- winning the last 37 years in the women's section and 46 times overall. On the men's side, track and field has accounted for 25 winners and 12 of the last 13 years.

However, the 2014 winners are likely to be outside of dominant track and field with swimming and boxing tipped to buck that trend.

Atkinson, who became the first black woman to capture a gold medal at a swimming world championship in world record time, looks all set to end athletics' winning streak. The last time a non-athletics person won the award was in 1976 when cricketer Vivalyn Latty-Scott triumphed.

If Atkinson is successful, she would join Belinda Phillips (1974) and Frances Noble (1968) as the only other swimmers to have won the award.

Atkinson will be up against track and field stalwarts Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Kaliese Spencer, Stephenie McPherson, Novlene Williams-Mills and Kimberley Williams, along with cricketer Stafanie Taylor.

However, her main challenger will be 400m hurdler Spencer, who was voted the Caribbean Sports Journalists' and the JAAA Athlete of the Year.

Meanwhile, in the men's section, Nicholas 'Axeman' Walters looks set to become the first boxer in 24 years to win the award. The last being Michael 'The Body Snatcher' McCallum in 1990.

Walters successfully defended the WBA World Featherweight title and later won the WBA Super World Featherweight crown to remain undefeated in 25 professional fights.

There will also be the People's Choice Performance of the Year Award that isdecided by voting. The ISSA Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Awards and the Sagicor Iconic Awards, are also among a number of awards to be announced tonight.

There will also be a new Mind Games category, which is restricted to chess and bridge. Both are recognised by the International Mind Sports Association.

Former Winners: 

2001: Christopher Williams (athletics) 2001: Lorraine Graham-Fenton (athletics)

2002: Michael Blackwood (athletics) 2002: Brigette Foster (athletics)

2003: James Beckford (athletics) 2003: Bridgette Foster (athletics)

2004: Danny McFarlane (athletics) 2004 Veronica Campbell (athletics)

2005: Asafa Powell (athletics) 2005: Trecia-Kaye Smith (athletics)

2006: Asafa Powell (athletics) 2006: Sherone Simpson (athletics)

2007; Asafa Powell (athletics) 2007: Veronica Campbell-Brown (athletics)

2008: Usain Bolt (athletics) 2008: Veronica-Campbell-Brown (athletics) /

Melaine Walker (athletics) *

2009: Usain Bolt (athletics) 2009: Brigitte Foster-Hilton (athletics)

2010: Christopher Gayle (cricket) 2010: Veronica Campbell-Brown (athletics)

2011: Usain Bolt (athletics) 2011: Veronica Campbell-Brown (athletics)

2012: Usain Bolt (athletics) 2012: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (athletics)

2013: Usain Bolt (athletics) 2013: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (athletics)

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