National sprinters Jereem "The Dream" Richards and Michelle-Lee Ahye captured the top awards for the second consecutive year when the First Citizens Sports Foundation hosted its 56th annual Sports Awards ceremony on Saturday night at the Queen’s Hall, Port-of-Spain to honour last season's top senior and junior national athletes for their exploits local, regional and internationally.
This was the fourth consecutive year that athletics claimed the top honours in the senior category and also in the youth category where sprinter Shaniqua Bascombe was adjudged the youth "Sportswoman of the Year". Swimmer Kael Yorke broke up the sweep by copping the youth "Sportsman of the Year".
Richards of Point Fortin won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in the men’s 200 metres event last year and was all smiles when collecting the glittering trophy from Dr Terry Ali, who replaced Dr Keith Clifford as the chairman of the Sports Foundation.
"I am humbled by this award," said Richards. "When I began to compete in track I would have never believed that I would have one day won this accolade. However, this is testimony that hard work, diligence, discipline, focus and my belief in God, anything is possible. I thank my coach, my family and my friends who have journeyed with me and I hope to bring more glory to T&T next year."
The dynamic Ahye of Rebirth Club was crowned three years in a row, also winning the award in 2016, 2017 and got the hat-trick on Saturday.
She too excelled at the Commonwealth Games, becoming the first T&T woman to win a Commonwealth gold medal in the 100m sprint event. Ahye eased through the qualifying rounds booking a berth in the women’s 100m final before making history.
Ahye's mother Raquel was again present to collect the award on behalf of her daughter from Minister of Sports Shamfa Cudjoe.
"Michelle is very proud of her country and this is another accomplishment for her. She has worked tremendously hard for her success and will be looking forward to bringing home a medal for this country in 2020 at the Olympics Games," said Racquel.
Both Ahye and Richards captured the T&T Olympic Committee (T&TOC) and National Association of Athletics Administrators of T&T (NAAATT) 2018 awards. Cougars' Bascombe was also voted as the NAAATT's junior Sportswoman of the Year.
Bascombe was overwhelmed by her success saying, "I am so excited and happy to win this coveted award. My focus and determination along with my coach Kelvin Nancoo have brought me to where I am today. I know things will only get tougher but my aim to rise to the challenge and make my country proud, with the Carifta Games as my first target."
Sports Minister Cudjoe in her address lauded First Citizens for its support and assistance to this nation over the years and praised the 98 athletes 55 senior (28 men and 27 women) and 43 junior (17 girls and 26 boys), who were up for the respective accolades.
She said, "For over 56 years the Sports Foundation has been the standard-bearer for corporate social responsibility in the area of sports development in T&T. For as long as I could remember, First Citizens Sports Foundation has been a beacon of hope in various initiatives that promote the development of our people, and more specifically our youth.
"First Citizens, you have made your mark indeed, and your reputation remains, undisputed, second to none. The entire sporting fraternity, from athletes to coaches from administrators to spectators, we have all been touched in some way or the other by your philanthropic endeavours. And for that, we thank you.
"We need to take a page from the book of each athlete because they impart life lessons that only sport can teach. Where humility brings honour, discipline brings dignity, favour is trumped by fair-play each and every day, your worth is determined by your work. Perseverance brings power and resilience earns you respect
"Our athletes epitomise all these fine qualities, and they deserve every bit of recognition and honour they receive. The government of T&T joins First Citizens in saluting you, our sportsmen and women.
"To First Citizens and the entire sporting fraternity, we thank you for your service, your sacrifice and for the lessons that you have taught us through sport."
Yorke was not at the ceremony so his sister Keona received the award on his behalf from Karen Darbasie, Group CEO of First Citizens
In other awards handed out, the NAAATT was adjudged the winner of the Jeffrey Stollmeyer Award, large category, which is given to a national governing sports body that has outstandingly showcased initiatives, and made significant improvements in its administration and towards the development of its athletes. NAAATT president Ephraim Serrette was presented the award, which his body won for the fourth time, by Stollmeyer's granddaughter Sophie White, who moments earlier handed out the trophy for the smaller category to the T&T Chess Association (TTCA), which was collected by TTCA president Sonja Johnson.
The Lystra Lewis award is for any individual, team or group whose performance has impacted significantly on the national sports landscape. The adjudged winner was the 4x400m relay team. Richards and Deon Lendore collected the prize on behalf of the team from three members of the T&T 1979 World netball champion team including Jennifer Frank, Sherril Peters, Peggy Castanada- Phillip and Petal Hinkson, neice of Lystra Lewis.
Former champion cyclist Roger Gibbon presented the trophies to the top 10 senior and junior athletes before the eventual winners were announced.
2018 HONOUR ROLL
Sportsman of The Year: Jareem Richards - Athletics
Sportswoman of The Year: Michelle-Lee Ahye
Youth Sportwoman of the Year: Shaniqua Bascombe - Athletics
Youth Sportsman of The Year: Kael Yorke - Swimming
Top 10 Senior Athletes of the Year
1. Aisha Chow - Rowing
2. Dylan Carter - Swimming
3. Jereem Richards - Athletics
4. Michael Alexander - Boxing
5. Michelle-Lee Ahye - Athletics
6. Muhammad Ali - Automobile Racing
7. Nicholas Paul - Cycling
8. Samantha Wallace - Netball
9. Shannon Gabriel - Cricket
10. Teniel Campbell - Cycling
Jeffrey Stollmeyer Award for the top organisations
Small Category Winner - T&T Chess Association
Large Category Winner - National Association of Athletics Administrations of T&T
Lystra Lewis award for top individual, team or group: Men's 4x400m relay team (Jereem Richards, Deon Lendore, Asa Guevara, Lalonde Gordon).