Eight women and five men have been nominated for the 2015 RJR National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year.
Swimming sensation and reigning RJR National Sportswoman- of-the-Year Alia Atkinson is among eight females nominated for the prestigious award, while Usain Bolt looks a shoo-in for the male category for the sixth time in his career.
The nominees were announced at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Thursday morning (Dec 10), during which it was revealed that will be a new male winner, as last year’s winner boxer Nicholas Walters, failed to make the shortlist.
The female nominees are headed by three time world 100 metres champion Shelly Ann Fraser- Pryce. The other track and field nominees are Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shericka Jackson, Sherone Simpson, Elaine Thompson and Danielle Williams. The list is completed by boxer Alicia Ashley.
Atkinson, who became the first swimmer since Belinda Phillips in 1974 to win the award, breaking the 39-year dominance of athletics, will be looking to retain her title.
She will be up against boxer Alicia Ashley and track stars Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Danielle Williams, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shericka Jackson, Sherone Simpson and Elaine Thompson.
Atkinson, 26, was nominated for her achievement in earning a silver medal in the 50-metre breaststroke in a national record of 30.11 seconds and also a bronze in the 100m breaststroke, both at the FINA World Swimming Championships (Long Course) in Russia.
She also took bronze in the 100m breaststroke at the PanAmerican Games in Toronto, Canada, and finished the year ranked fourth overall in the FINA Airwaves Swimming World Cup (Short Course). Atkinson is also ranked third in the world in the 50m breaststroke.
Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, who won in 2012 and 2013, seems to be her main threat with two gold at the IAAF World Championship in Beijing in August. The ‘Pocket Rocket’ won the 100m in 19.76 seconds Championship in Beijing and anchored the 4x100m relay team to gold in a championship record of 41.07 seconds.
Alicia Ashley, at 48 years-old, set the Guinness Book World Record for being the oldest female boxer to win a major boxing title by defeating previously unbeaten Christina McMahon of Ireland for the vacant WBC women’s junior featherweight title in October. Ashley was the recipient of the Chairman’s Award last year.
Danielle Williams, who won the 100m hurdles gold at the World Championship in a personal best 12.57 seconds and at the World University Games in 12.78 seconds, is also in contention.
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As expected, the all-time most decorated athlete in World Championships history and the world 100m and 200m record holder, Usain Bolt headlines the five male nominees who are all from the sport of track and field.
Bolt, who won in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013, should have little difficulty notching yet another award following his triple gold at the World Championship in August. He won the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay for the third time at the championship despite losing much of the season through injury.
Meanwhile, Reggae Boy Simon Dawkins who scored a last gasp scorcher against Nicaragua in World Cup qualifying; Jamaica’s World Championships women’s 4 x 400m relay team which won gold; sprint hurdles gold medallist Danielle Williams; FINA World Championships 50 metre breaststroke silver medallist Alia Atkinson and Chris Gayle who slammed a record double century against Zimbabwe at the World Cup, are the five nominees for the People’s Choice Award which recognizes the sporting performance of the year.
Atkinson’s ‘Furious Swim’ is selected for her effort in the 50m breaststroke at the FINA World Championship.
Dawkins’ ‘Last-Gasp Goal’ against Nicaragua in the 90th minute, kept Jamaica’s FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifying hopes alive.
Gayle’s ‘Record Setting Double Century’, where he smashed 215 runs from 147 balls against Zimbabwe with 16 sixes and 10 fours to become the first player ever to score a double century in the history of the ICC Cricket World Cup, is also nominated.
Danielle Williams’ ‘Upsetting the Odds’ after producing a silky smooth run in the final of the 100m hurdles at the World Championship in an event that the Americans were expected to sweep, is also in the running.
Then there is Jamaica’s 4x400m female relay team’s ‘History-Making Run’ in winning Jamaica’s first World Championship mile relay gold medal for some splendid relay legs by the quartet, is also recognised as a standout moment.
This will be voted on by members of the public.
The prestigious awards will be held on Friday, January 15 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, where Barbadian Sir Hilary Beckles is slated to be the guest speaker.