Royal duet

Dacres, Alia cop Sportsman, Sportswoman of the Year awards

Senior staff reporter

Sunday, January 20, 2019

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Swimming sensation Alia Atkinson and discus thrower Fedrick Dacres walked away with the RJR National Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year Awards at a lengthy, but glittering function at Jamaica Pegasus on Friday night.

Having broken the dominance of athletic winners in 2014 and again in 2017, Atkinson notched her third crown following another outstanding season in the pool, culminating with her breaking the 50m short course breaststroke world record in Budapest, Hungary, with a time of 28.56 seconds..

Commonwealth Games gold medallists, shot putter Daniel Thomas-Dodd and triple jumper Kimberly Williams were joint runners-up. Another track and field athlete Janieve Russell won the Athlete of the Year by Sports category.

Atkinson walked away with three major awards as she also won the People's Choice Performance of the Year and the Gleaner Iconic Award, and she was extremely happy.

“It is with extreme joy that I have the pleasure to stand before you. I feel truly blessed at the up and down career I was allowed to have because without the downs, I don't believe this ride would have been this exciting, this impacting, and this life-changing,” said Atkinson.

“2018 was the year of the big three. I turned 30, I have broken world record three times, I have defended my world title for three consecutive championships, and I have received this elusive award for the third time,” said a beaming Atkinson to loud applause.

Atkinson, with her third title, joins Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce on three wins, and only Veronica Campbell Brown, with five, and the legendary Merlene Ottey with 13 titles are ahead of her.

Meanwhile, the towering Dacres became the first thrower to win the Sportsman of the Year Award ahead of sprint hurdler Ronald Levy.

Dacres had an outstanding year in which he won gold at the Commonwealth Games with a record of 68.20m, beat the world at the IAAF Continental Cup with a throw of 67.97m, and took the discus Diamond League final with 68.67m. He had won three of the four Diamond League meets and established a new national record of 69.67m in winning in Stockholm.

“I am just really thankful. I am very excited about the progress we have been making and it shows that Jamaica is actually stepping up as a throwing nation,” said Dacres.

Dacres, who went through a number of injuries, thanked his supporting staff for keeping him focused and dedicated.

“At points in my life I wondered why am I doing this. I am destroying my body for whatever and when I get old I am going to suffer. So, to have someone behind you saying to you that you doing this for a reason and the Lord Jesus have a plan for you, if they weren't there I wouldn't be here,” he told the gathering.

Ian Wilkinson, the president of the Jamaica Chess Federation, received the Chairman's Award for his outstanding contribution to the sport.

The attorney-at-law, who last December made history when he was made an honorary vice-president of the World Chess Federation, is the first person from the English-speaking Caribbean to hold such a position.

He had to cut short a criminal case he was working on in the United States to collect the prestigious recognition.

“I am feeling excited by this award. Actually, many people wouldn't know it, but I took three planes today to come to collect this award. I was actually overseas in the middle of a criminal trial, just at the point where we were going to empanel the jury, and I got a phone call,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“Normally, I understand that this is a surprise award an people would not know it, but the chairman had no option but to tell me because he learnt I was overseas and I made a decision that this was important to the chess community that I be here,” Wilkinson added.

Meanwhile, 16-year-old Jodi-Ann Brown won the Victoria Mutual YOUTH Award following outstanding displays that helped Jamaica historically qualified for the senior Fifa Women's World Cup.

The Reggae Girlz forward was selected as the best young player of the 2018 Concacaf Women's Championship by the confederation's technical committee.

The 16-year-old Jamaican received her prize moments after she helped the Reggae Girlz become the first Caribbean team to reach the Women's World Cup. Brown had scored six times during the campaign.

“I didnt know that I would play for the Senior Girlz, but it was a good feeling to play and qualify for the World Cup,” she added.

“A lot of persons in Jamaica don't follow female football, but we know what we want to accomplish and we just follow our dreams and work hard as a team,” said Brown.

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