No surprises, as boxer Nicholas ‘The Axeman’ Walters and swimming star Alia Atkinson, were last night added to the hallowed corridors of Jamaican sporting heritage, after coming out on top at the 54th RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards ceremony at The Jamaica Pegasus last night.
The pair, who a day earlier had received special Gleaner Honour Awards for their competitive representation in their respective disciplines, entered the grandiose ballroom as the overwhelming favourites and duly left a few hours later, clutching the island’s top sporting accolade, ending a run of 40 years since a track and field athlete didn’t win either of the top awards.
Kaliese Spencer, the 400m hurdling standout, fresh from what has been one of the most dominating seasons by an athlete, along with history-maker O’Dayne Richards, ensured that the ‘oval office’ had its say, after being named as runners-up for the national sportswoman and sportsman of the year awards respectively.
Female boxer Alicia Ashley’s receiving of the Chairman’s Award delivered the knockout on what was a big night for the sport – clearly on the up, with legendary sprinter Donald Quarrie being this year’s recipient for the Sagicor Iconic Award.
Atkinson is only the third swimmer to win the sportswoman of the year award after Frances Noble (1968) and Belinda Phillip (1974).
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