Thursday 4 June, 2020

McLeod, Atkinson big favourites for National Sports Awards tonight

Swimming sensation Alia Atkinson (left) and sprint hurdler Omar McLeod.

Swimming sensation Alia Atkinson (left) and sprint hurdler Omar McLeod.

Sprint hurdler Omar McLeod and swimming sensation Alia Atkinson are the big favourites to be named as the 2017 RJRGleaner National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year.

The announcement will be made at a gala ceremony, which will take place at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, starting at 7:00 pm.

McLeod, 23, and Atkinson, 29, are among  a list of 10 nominees for the prestigious awards.

The nominees comprise three women and seven men.

Sprint icon Usain Bolt, who had an awful exit from professional athletics at the World Championships in London in August, is also among the seven men's nominees.

The other men's nominees are squash super star Christopher Binnie, goalkeeper Andre Blake and cricketers Chris Gayle, Nikita Miller and Chadwick Walton.

The other two women's nominees are  track and field duo  Elaine Thompson and Ristananna Tracey, who posted a lifetime best 53.74 seconds to win the bronze medal in the women's 400-metre hurdles at the  World Championships in London.

McLeod and Atkinson had outstanding 2017.

After disappointments for sprint stars  Bolt and Thompson in London,  McLeod claimed the only gold medal for Jamaica at the World Championships by winning the men's 110-metre hurdles.

McLeod, also a winner at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, started and finished strongly in London to record a time of 13.04 seconds and beat reigning champion Sergey Shubenkov by a tenth of a second, with Hungary's Balazs Baji claiming a shock bronze medal and world-record holder Aries Merritt fifth.

McLeod also lowered his national record in 2017 after positing 12.90 (0.7m/s) en route to his third consecutive domestic title, a time which catapulted him to joint fifth on the world all-time list.

Among the highlights for Atkinson in 2017 was three gold medals at the FINA Swimming World Cup in Germany. Those gold came in the women's 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke events.

The 29-year-old Atkinson also broke the 100-metre freestyle national  record at the Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships in Coral Spring in July.

The four-time Olympian broke the record by winning the event in 55.35 seconds, just three weeks after she became the first Jamaican woman to swim the 100-metre butterfly in under a minute.

Atkinson ended the year ranked number one for short course for both the 50m and 100m breaststroke events and number four for the 200m breaststroke.

Meanwhile, five nominees were announced for the People's Choice Performance of the Year award. They are Andre Blake, Kemar Lawrence, Omar McLeod, Kamahl Russell and Oshane Thomas.

The nominees for the National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards (in alphabetical order):

Christopher Binnie
Andre Blake
Usain Bolt
Chris Gayle
Omar McLeod
Nikita Miller
Chadwick Walton

Alia Atkinson
Elaine Thompson
Ristananna Tracey

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