Bolt, VCB toasts at RJR Awards

Bolt, VCB toasts at RJR Awards

BY DANIA BOGLE Observer staff reporter

Sunday, January 22, 2012

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WORLD 200m champion Usain Bolt expressed surprise after being named alongside Veronica Campbell Brown as the 2011 RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Friday.

Two-time previous winner Bolt stood out amongst a group which included runner-up Yohan Blake, Lerone Clarke and Asafa Powell; cricketer Marlon Samuels and boxer Nicholas Walters.

Bolt was a double winner as he also walked away with the inaugural Sagicor Iconic Award.

He graciously thanked the persons who voted for him and pointed out that he and training partner Yohan Blake, who is the 100m world champion and now the second fastest man over 200m behind Bolt himself, were great friends and would always be.

The tall athlete, who sat beside Blake throughout the two-and-a-half-hour-long function, told the Sunday Observer that after a year in which he saw a lot of competition from Blake, he wanted everyone to know that any rivalry between himself and Blake was completely friendly.

"A lot of things have been stirring in the media so I just decide I have a chance I would clear it up. It's good to have rivalry, but I think when you're trying to break up a friendship that's the wrong way to go," he pointed out.

"The rivalry will always be there because we're great athletes and we're going to be great competitors, but in training it's just hard work and we're friends and when we go out there it's different story. If I win, Jamaica wins, and if Yohan wins, Jamaica wins, so its good for the country anyway."

The 2011 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Male Athlete of the Year was characteristically

light-hearted in his thank you speech, joking about not being termed 'Honourable' or 'Doctor' whenever his name was mentioned in accordance with the honours which have been conferred upon him by from the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Government of Jamaica.

Campbell Brown, who also won the award in 2007, 2008 and last year and was named the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA) female athlete of the year, was practically a shoe-in for the award.

She outshone other female nominees, runner-up and cricketer Stafanie Taylor, boxer Alicia Ashley, swimmer Alia Atkinson, and fellow athletes Kaliese Spencer and Melaine Walker.

"I'm honoured. There are so many great female athletes here they all competed well in 2011 and I'm grateful to be given Sportswoman of the Year for my performance," Campbell Brown said.

As the reigning world and Olympic 200m champion looks forward to this season and especially this year's Olympic Games, she said she hoped all would go well as she seeks to defend her title for a second time.

"I'm always motivated. Track and field is my passion and every time I go out I always put my best in it, my all, and so London 2012 is very special and I hope that I will be there to compete and represent my country, myself, and my family."

Late JAAA president Howard Aris was the posthumous recipient of the Chairman's Award for his long, distinguished and meritorious service to Jamaica's sports.

Aris died suddenly in November after over 40 years of contribution to athletics.

He coached his alma mater Kingston College to 14 straight ISSA Boys Championship titles during the 1960s and 70s and later served as a vice-president of JAAA before being elected president of the association. He also served on the IAAF's Youth Commission.

Meanwhile, category awards went to Bolt and Campbell Brown for athletics; Taylor and Samuels for cricket; Samantha Albert and Adam Lake for equestrian; Demi Nicholson and George McLashen for hockey; Nadine Bryan for netball; Ryan Grant for rugby league; Errol Kerr for skiing; Chris Binnie for squash; Imani and Icah Wilmot for surfing; Atkinson and Brad Hamilton for swimming; Shenique Clare and Simon Tomlinson for table tennis; Tracyann Pryce-Findlay and Ryck Webb for volleyball; Alya Lewis and Charles Pyne for badminton; Samardo Samuels and Simone Jackson for basketball, and Alicia Ashley and Nicholas Walters for boxing.

Special Awards were presented to ParaPan American Games discus gold medallist Alphonso Cunningham; World Youth Championships discus gold medallist Frederick Dacres; 100m gold and 200m silver medallist Odail Todd; long jump winner Chanice Porter; World University Games gold medallists O'Dayne Richard, Carrie Russell, Anneisha McLaughlin, Rasheed Dwyer, Hansel Parchment and Jacques Harvey.

Team awards were presented to various regional winners, including the Caribbean and One Day championship senior team, Under-15 and Under-19, sight impaired and women's teams.

Team Jamaica Bickle's Irwine Clare received a certificate of merit for dedicated service to Jamaican sports in North America and especially to athletes attending the Penn Relays; Barry Barnes for service to cricket in Manchester; Isbeth Bernard for service to netball, and Neville Bell for service and outstanding contribution to football and sports journalism.

The People's Choice Performance of the Year prize went to Asafa Powell for his 10.08 seconds win in the men's 100m at the National Championships in June.

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