Award winners Fraser-Pryce, Gayle colour gala event with words of inspiration


Award winners Fraser-Pryce, Gayle colour gala event with words of inspiration

Observer staff reporter

Sunday, January 19, 2020

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In the midst of celebrating their respective achievements of being named 2019 RJRGLEANER Foundation Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year, MVP athletes Tajay Gayle and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce utilised the platform to encourage their peers and aspiring athletes to continue to shoot for the stars.

Given their outstanding performances over the past year, there was little surprise when both were announced the big winners at a glittering awards function at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Friday night.

Both were also named Athlete of the Year by Sports category.

Gayle easily copped the award following his stunning World Championships performance to land gold in the men's long jump with 8.62m, which was the longest jump in the world for 10 years and the 10th-longest jumper of all time.

Last night's accomplishment saw the 23-year-old joining James Beckford, who won in 1995, 1996 and 2003, as the second long jumper to win the prestigious award since it started in 1961. He also became the third field event athlete to pocket the top prize, following Fedrick Dacres' win last year.

Dacres, who won silver in the discus at the World Championships, was named runner-up to Gayle from a short list that included Caribbean squash champion Christopher Binnie; Yona Knight-Wisdom, Pan American Games diving silver medallist; and another discus thrower, Travis Smikle.

Proudly sporting his Papine High School tie, Gayle reminded those who may have forgotten his story.

“Tajay Andrew Gayle, born and grew up in the rural area of August Town, is now the World champion and the RJR Sportsman of the Year.

“August Town, a place that is called the ghetto where the odds are against young youths like me, but I guess this now proves that anything is possible. Not anyone can be great, but great can come from anyone. If I can do it, you can do it too,” he said beaming with pride.

“I didn't grow up with any father, but that didn't stop me...I have the best mother in the world, along with Coach Osbourne, and the MVP, and UTech team and the Papine high community. As I prepare for Tokyo 2020, I am going to need all the support I can get. I am on top now, Jamaica is on top now, we are on top now, so let's stay there,” Gayle added.

Meanwhile, Fraser-Pryce, 33, was collecting her fourth Sportswoman of the Year award after returning to reclaim her throne as the sprint queen two years after giving birth to her son.

It was a sensational return to the track as she won her fourth 100m World title in a world-leading 10.71 seconds at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, last year. She accounted for her eighth world title overall in Doha, as she also led the sprint relay team to gold in 41.44 seconds.

Her lightning speed and breathtaking gold medal run in the 100m also won her the People's Choice Performance of the Year Award.

Fraser-Pryce also won the National Sportswoman award in 2012, 2013 and 2015. Only Veronica Campbell Brown, with five, and the legendary Merlene Ottey with 13 titles, are ahead of her.

The runner-up spot went to Shericka Jackson, who copped bronze in the 400m and the 4X400m relay and also anchored the gold-medal winning 4X100m relay team.

Swimmer Alia Atkinson, who broke the dominance of athletics winners in 2014 and again in 2017 and 2018, was again shortlisted along with Danniel Thomas-Dodd, Rushell Clayton, Shanieka Ricketts, Natoya Goule, Elaine Thompson-Herah, and Danielle Williams.

Fraser-Pryce was not only pleased, but extremely grateful for the accolade.

“I've always said that all good and perfect things come from God and one of the things that I am also grateful for is the timing, timing is everything.

“I would like to congratulate all the nominees tonight for continuing to excel in their different fields and continuing to be trailblazers for those to come and those behind us. Even though I am the Sportswoman of the Year, in your own way, you are all sportswomen of the Year,” Fraser-Pryce said.

From there the alluring and vivacious athlete dropped sound words of advice to all and sundry within range of her voice.

“In the last three or four years since I've been away [and] the three things I have learnt is endurance, consistency and focus. While on my comeback, I honestly learnt the importance of being patient and enduring and understanding that your time will come, you just have to be consistent.

“You have to work hard to stay focus and the goals and dreams that you have set for yourself, you have to continue to push towards those,” she shared.

Meanwhile, the Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) YOUTH Award was presented to 12-year-old go-karting sensation John Alexandre Powell, who won the ROK Super Final in the Mini category in October 2019.

Jamaica and West Indies fast bowling legend Courtney Walsh was presented with the Iconic award, while FIFA assistant referees Princess Brown-Muir and Stephanie-Dale Yee Sing picked up the Chairman's Award.

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