The RJR Sports Foundation is gearing up for the 55th staging of its annual Sportsman And Sportswoman Of The Year Awards, to be held on Friday, January 15. The awards honour outstanding achievements in sport by Jamaican athletes, by nominating a maximum of 10 persons of each gender for consideration. Thirteen of our marquee athletes and upcoming stars are in contention for the titles this year, five males and eight females.
The Sportsman of the Year field is strictly a track and field affair this time around.
Usain Bolt – Many Jamaicans were worried going into the 2015 track and field season as the sprint demigod had been laying low, his form and readiness in question for the World Championships in Beijing. Most of us will never admit it, even with our hands over the fire, but the American Justin Gatlin had us concerned. Would Bolt be able to pull off three wins against him? Would our beloved champion taste his biggest defeat(s) in the same Bird’s Nest Stadium where he had become a global superstar in 2008? Well, we could have saved ourselves the stress. There were no world records this time around, but Bolt soundly disciplined all competitors, Gatlin included, and reminded us that worrying is not a part of his vocabulary. For taking triple gold at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Beijing, China – against all odds, and becoming the all-time most decorated male athlete in World Champs history (11 gold and two silver medals), Bolt is a shoo-in for the title this year – his sixth overall.
Fedrick Dacres – The former Calabar Lion has been on our radar since his days of dominating the discus event at Boys and Girls Champs, so it was not a big surprise to us when he won the gold medal at the XVII Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada. Dacres hurled the discus 64.80m to win the event over Ronald Juliao of Brazil by .15 metres. He went into the Beijing World Champs on a high, and booked his place in the discus finals after his first attempt was measured at 65.77m – the best qualifying throw. Unfortunately, he couldn’t replicate the form in the finals and finished in seventh place. However, we are looking forward to better results in a few months’ time at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Rasheed Dwyer – Bolt has been so dominant over the 200m for so long that there is rarely any room in the conversation for another name to pop up, but last year, Dwyer sounded the alarm that he was a force to be reckoned with. He claimed the silver medal in the event at the XVII PanAm Games in Toronto, Canada, smashing Don Quarrie’s 44-year old 200m games record of 19.86 seconds on his way to the finals. He also featured in the men’s 4x100m relay team’s gold medal run in Beijing, to cap off a great season.
Hansle Parchment – He was not the Jamaican most of us had our eyes on going into Beijing, as compatriot Omar McLeod was setting the track afire with every race. However, come the big day, it was Parchment who took home the medal, claiming silver in the 110m hurdles behind Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov in 13.03.
O’Dayne Richards – Like Dacres, Richards went to Beijing on a high after a phenomenal performance at the PanAm Games in Toronto, where he won the shot put in a new national record of 21.69m. He managed to equal this record in the Beijing finals, where his put earned him a bronze medal. Not a bad season at all!