Blake, Campbell-Brown JAAA's athletes of the year

BY PAUL BURROWES Observer writer

Saturday, December 10, 2011

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YOHAN Blake and Veronica Campbell-Brown were named the Male and Female Athlete of the Year yesterday at the JAAA Scotiabank Group Golden Cleat Awards held at the Terra Nova Hotel.

Blake's coach Glen Mills copped the Coach of the Year Award, Traves Smikle won the new Howard Aris Award, while members of Jamaica's 4x100m relay team received the IAAF awards presentation confirming their world record of time of 37.04 seconds.

Meanwhile, CEO Scotia Investments and senior vice-president for Wealth Management, Lissant Mitchell, announced the Howard Aris Scholarship valued at $500,000 for an athlete between 18 and 23 years old attending the University of the West Indies, University of Technology or GC Foster College.

Twenty-one-year-old Blake, who won the World Championships 100m and featured in Jamaica winning 4x100m relay gold in record time said "it was a dream come true" for him.

Referring to coach Mills as one of the great men of all time, Blake, the youngest 100m world champion, attributed his achievement to hard work and "toiling hard through the night".

Minister of Sport, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, presented Blake with the Male Athlete of the Year award.

Meanwhile, 29-year-old Campbell-Brown, acknowledging that her mother taught her to say thanks on receiving anything, said it was with both sadness and appreciation that she was accepting the Female Athlete of the Year award.

Sad on account of the passing of Aris and appreciative that the late president positioned Jamaica to the top of the athletics ladder.

Campbell won her first World Championship 200m title at Daegu, bringing to 17 the number of medals won at the Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Olympic Games.

The only other athletes from the Commonwealth that has won more medals than Campbell-Brown is fellow Jamaican Merlene Ottey (28 medals).

Both Blake, who conditions with local-based and Mills-run Racers Track Club, and Campbell-Brown who trains in Florida, are expecting another productive 2012 at the London Olympics Games in the summer.

Nineteen-year-old Smikle, who did not attend yesterday's function as he was overseas visting prospective colleges, had an excellent season winning the discus at the National Senior Championships, the Carifta Games, and the Pan American Junior Championships, achieving a personal best 66.88 metres with the 1.75kg object.

With the 2kg discus used by senior men in international competition, Smikle tossed a personal best 59.83 metres (to win the National Senior Championships) to end the year at number 98 in the world. The national senior record is 64.11 metres set by Jason Morgan last May. Morgan was number 39 in the world.

Blake was the only member of the 4x100m record relay team present at the function. He ran the third leg, after Nesta Carter and Michael Frater, before handing the baton to Usain Bolt.

Scotia Investments CEO, Mitchell, also announed that the Scotia Group would contribute US$5,000 to purchase hurdles in memory of the late president.

Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) president Dr Warren Blake and second vice-president Donald Quarrie also spoke at the awards ceremony with the latter noting that 21 Jamaicans were in the top 10 of track and field for 2011.

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