HAVING captured the Commonwealth 100m gold medal last year, there was little surprise when national sprinter Michelle-Lee Ahye picked up the First Citizens Foundation's Sportswoman of the Year for a third consecutive year, at the prestigious 56th annual awards ceremony on Saturday night.
Ahye was joined by her national team-mate and fellow sprinter Jereem Richards, who defended his crown as the Sportsman of the Year.
Athletics was further represented by Shaniqua Bascombe, whose stellar 2018 season earned her Junior Sportswoman of the year, while swimmer Kael Yorke broke up the athletics' dominance by copping the Junior Sportsman of the Year. Yorke won gold medals at the Carifta Swimming Championships, CAC Games, the National Long Course Championships and other major events, where he broke records with ease.
Ahye was represented on the Queen' Hall stage by her mother, Racquel Ahye, who beamed with pride upon receiving the award on behalf of her daughter.
"I tell her to keep focused... I just pray (for her)," when asked what words of advice she shares with her daughter.
Ahye became this country's first ever women's gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games in Australia last year when she won the 100m final in 11.14 seconds. Perhaps Ahye's closest challenger was cyclist Teneil Campbell, who had an exceptional year in 2018, winning many races on the local and international stages, including her greatest achievement to date – gold in the women's road race at the CAC Games.
Richards, the 24-year-old 200m specialist had to contend with world beaters in Nicholas Paul, the ICU's fourth ranked sprint cyclist, coming off the best season of his young career in 2018, and Dylan Carter, who won an incredible haul of three gold, one silver and one bronze medal at the CAC Games, while also re-writing national records in the process.
Richards relayed what he described as the best advice given to him by any coach, which he said applies to athletics and other sports.
"Some of the advice my coach would give me is to definitely always stay relaxed, especially in sprinting and track and field, because when your body is tense, and you run and fight it, you cannot move as fast," Richards said.
When relaxed, Richards said, one's movement is more effective and requires less energy. Richards added that he is relaxed and prepared for another progressive season in 2019, ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Athletics completed a near clean-sweep of First Citizens Sports Foundation awards when the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) picked up the Jeffrey Stollmeyer Award, which is given to the best performing national governing body (NGB) in terms of efficiency, sustainability, growth, accountability and similar factors. The NAAA won the award for a fourth time in five years and a seventh in total, joining the TT Cricket Board as the NGB with the joint most Jeffrey Stollmeyer Awards. The TT Chess Association won the Jeffrey Stollmeyer award in the small NGB category for a third time since 2015.
The well-organised awards ceremony paid homage in a touching video tribute to then-active and retired sporting administrators and athletes who died in 2018, including Leon Carpette, Michael McComie, Kwasi Emmanuel, Joe Brown, Ayanna Dyett, Louis Wiltshire, Darren Sirju, Ian Gooding, Sunil Sirjoo, Colin Laird, David Farrell, Derrick Baptiste, Muhammad Isa, and many others.
Top ten youth nominees: Timothy Frederick (athletics), Tyron Thomas (boxing), Navin Bidaisee (cricket), Kael Yorke (swimming), Tyriq Horsford (athletics), Rachel Grosberg (triathlon), Shaniqua Bascombe (athletics), Rahul Mahabir (target archery), Daynte Stewart (volleyball) and Teague Marcano (hockey).
Top ten senior nominees: Muhammad Ali (automobile sports), Teneil Campbell (cycling), Michelle-Lee Ahye (athletics), Dylan Carter (swimming), Felice Chow (rowing), Nicholas Paul (cycling), Jereem Richards (athletics), Michael Alexander (boxing), Shannon Gabriel (cricket), Samantha Wallace (netball).