Tornadoes Swim Club revels in national honours
Israel Allen (left) accepts the 2022 Male Triathlete of the Year award from Print and Digital Services Chief Executive Officer Anthony Smith during the RJRGleaner Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards show at Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on January 20, 2023.

The three award secured at the recently concluded RJRGleaner Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year show have come as a boon of motivation for both athletes and members of the Tornadoes Swim Club coaching staff.

Excitement permeated the Kingston-based club after Sabrina Lyn, Israel Allen and Rihanna Gayle were named recipients of a national award for their successes in both swimming and triathlon over the past year.

Lyn, who is now based overseas, headline the trio, as she copped the 2022 Female Swimmer of the Year Award, following gold medal performances and a national record the in 100m butterfly, as well as a team relay meet record at the Carifta Swimming Championship.

The 18-year-old also won other medals including gold at the inaugural Caribbean Games in Guadeloupe, along with a 200m butterfly record at the CCCAN Swimming Championship in Barbados last year.

Lyn, who was recently accepted to Louisiana State University, said receiving the award has been a "very honouring experience" and she felt inspired to walk in the footsteps of Jamaica's now-retired doyenne of the swimming scene, Alia Atkinson, who also received the national honour.

"This makes me feel like I am on track to represent Jamaica and my club and to walk in her footsteps on the Olympic stage," said Lyn.

For Gayle, the 17-year-old female Triathlete of the Year, the award also serves as significant boost in a sport that requires discipline and commitment.

Gayle's accolades include a first-place finish in the Jamaica National Championship Triathlon and a silver medal performance at the Carifta Aquathlon in Bermuda last November. Gayle also secured silver in the World Triathlon Development Regional Cup hosted in Santa Domingo in October.

"It was a big motivation for me to be there at the ceremony and to be recognised among all the great athletes in Jamaica. Triathlon is a unique sport, and it takes a lot of work, but I am also willing to work hard to accomplish more and to go further in the Triathlon," the St Andrew High School for Girls student said.

Allen, 16, a student at Jamaica College and national triathlon champion, was elated to receive the male award and is proud of his achievements in the sport. Allen has represented Jamaica on various occasions in both competitive swimming and triathlon and has won various awards including a bronze medal for Jamaica at the Carifta Aquathlon.

Head coach of the Tornadoes, Wendy Lee, hailed the success of the three awardees whom she says have been striving towards excellence since they were eight years old.

"These awards are indeed a physical manifestation of the hard work that we continue put in to producing Jamaica's best aquatics athletes and as head coach, I am extremely proud of the strides that all our athletes are taking led, of course, by Sabrina, Rihanna, and Israel," Lee said.

She credits the round of successes the club secured in 2022 to the holistic approach that the club takes to athlete development.

Tornadoes secured victory in seven of nine local meets last year and are already preparing for continued success this year.

"All of our swimmers are actively pursuing big goals both in and outside of the pool. We are committed to age-appropriate training of the highest standards for all our swimmers, and we are truly honoured to continue to facilitate and nurture this tradition of excellence," she added.

Rihanna Gayle accepts the 2022 Female Triathlete of the Year award from Print and Digital Services Chief Executive Officer Anthony Smith during the RJRGleaner Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards show at Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on January 20, 2023.

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