By Zaheer E. Clarke
Published January 19, 2015
By the time this is published, the RJR Sports Foundation Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards would have been presented. The front-runners on everyone’s lips are Nicholas ‘Axeman’ Walters and Alia Atkinson. Both athletes are from nontraditional sports, boxing and swimming, that haven’t seen winners in recent times.
It is my belief that if Alia Atkinson did not win the 2014 RJR Sportswoman of the Year, last Friday, then the awards committee should be fired or they should relinquish their positions forthwith.
The other front-runner for the Sportswoman Award is Kaliese Spencer. She had a phenomenal 2014. At the World Indoor Championships, she won two silver medals in the 400m and 4x400m relay.
She won a gold medal apiece at the Commonwealth games and IAAF Continental Cup, in the 400m hurdles. She also dominated the Diamond League in the 400m hurdles, and much more. In all, she only lost one race in the 400m hurdles in 2014, and is the world #1 in the event.
All the same, the criteria for the RJR Sports Awards are clear. Olympic or Olympic-like events such as World Championships or world record feats take precedence over Commonwealth or Pan-American Games, which in turn is placed ahead of Central American and Caribbean (CAC) events, etc.
Alia Atkinson won gold and silver at the FINA World Short Course Championships. Her gold medal performance saw her equalling the world record. At the Commonwealth games, she won two medals: silver and bronze. In the FINA World Cup Short Course Series, she finished third in points and third on the money list (equivalent to third in the IAAF Athlete of the Year). She has won many races on the FINA circuit and in Grand Prix (equivalent to Diamond League in Athletics). In all, she lost only one race apiece in the 50m and 100m breaststrokes in 2014, and is the world #1 in both events.
Her superior performances at the World Championships, include equalling a world record, gives her the edge over Kaliese. The RJR Sports Foundation awards committee has no choice based on their criteria, but to award her Sportswoman of the Year.
In 2005-07, Asafa Powell broke or equalled world records and won Sportsman of the Year. In 2007, 2010 and 2011 Veronica Campbell-Brown won gold medals at World Championships and won Sportswoman of the Year. Usain Bolt in 2009, like Alia in 2014, achieved both a world record and a gold medal at the World Championships. He was the 2009 Sportsman of the Year, similarly Alia should be 2014 Sportswoman of the Year.
If the awards committee went against their own rules, criteria or precedence, there is no justification for their actions. The streets will be marred by protests that cry out, “We Want Alia”. The mob will call for their heads, or at least their honourable resignations. I only hope they have given the people what they want, what is right and what is fair.
It’s simply Alia, or else …
Until next time …
© Zaheer Clarke
From the “Lies & Statistics” Column in the Western Mirror (Published Monday, January 19, 2015)