George Bovell is the Express Individual of the Year 2013.
Bovell believes 2013 has been his “greatest year ever in swimming”, despite having represented Trinidad and Tobago in four consecutive Olympic Games, including winning this country’s first ever medal for swimming at that level.
This year, the 30-year-old copped 13 medals at the FINA World Cup, comprising of one gold, five silver and seven bronze.
He grabbed bronze in the 2013 FINA World Championships and also won the 2013 edition of the Jax 50 sprint challenge that featured a bevy of Olympic talent.
While filming an advertisement at Paria Falls on Trinidad’s north coast, Bovell even managed to save a deer from drowning.
He has also conducted several free swimming clinics across the country.
Bovell was selected as the Express Individual of the Year 2013 by a panel of judges comprising Express editors and managers in recognition of his “phenomenal” year.
Every year for over the last 20 years the Express has sought to find and recognise that one person or group who made a significant impact in people’s lives, a group or person who would have contributed to society, who would have triumphed against all odds, who would have stood out in the crowd and, most of all, who would deserve recognition.
Bovell was selected as that person.
The public was also invited to submit nominations for all the awards, which included the Youth of the Year, which went to calypsonian Jeromy Rodriguez of Moruga (see story below); and the Community Group of the Year was earned by the St Vincent Ferrer Society, also of Moruga (see Page 4).
Speaking to the Express yesterday from St Lucia, Bovell, described the award as “an incredible honour”.
“I hope I can live up to these expectations again in 2014. I am really honoured to be named and I hope to keep pushing. We are going to do some more free swim clinics. I have two world champions and Olympic medallists coming down (to Trinidad and Tobago),” Bovell said.
“I am going to do the Uganda initiative again, bigger and better, hopefully touch some more lives, and I am going to keep pushing hard in my swimming,” he said.
Bovell participated in the Swim Against Malaria initiative in Uganda in 2013.
In terms of competition, Bovell rated his bronze medal win at the 50-metre freestyle event at the FINA World Championships as his best for 2013 and possibly his best ever.
He set a national record with a time of 21.51 at the event.
“For me it (the World Championship bronze medal swim) is more satisfying than my Olympic medal because I started becoming a sprinter out of an injury,” Bovell said.
The injury hampered Bovell’s performance in the individual-medley events.
“Gradually I climbed up through the ranks and now to be one of the top most respected premier swimmers in the blue-ribbon event of the sport is just something that I will be incredibly satisfied with as long as I live,” Bovell said. “It has been an incredible journey and I hope to stay here and keep pushing even higher, the cup being (the Olympic Games in) 2016,” he said.
Bovell was in St Lucia to perform the role of best man at the wedding of his coach, Sport Minister Anil Roberts.
“For someone to be your best man means that you love and respect everything about them and George Bovell is a tremendous individual, much more than a former world record holder, Olympic and World Championship bronze medallist, four-time NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) champion, Panam (Pan American) champion. He is a great man, an intelligent man, a selfless human being and you can tell by the way he gives back,” Roberts said.
“Bovell is still working hard to represent Trinidad and Tobago, but at any point in time you call him for assistance, to talk to kids, to motivate children, to provide knowledge, to share information, he is always there. The first one ready to serve,” he added.
“So all in all he is the entire package. He is an inspiration. I want my children to turn out just like George Bovell because he is somebody that parents, people of the country can be totally proud of,” Roberts said.
Roberts said for Bovell to be named the Express Individual of the Year for 2013, “the number one newspaper, is incredible and a deep honour for him and for me”.
“I am very proud of him,” Roberts added.
Roberts said Bovell was able to “bounce back from abject disappointment to have an incredible 2013”.
“Sporting-wise, this year was another red-letter year for George. I compare this year to 2004, when he won the bronze medal in Athens at the Olympics.
“He is really getting better and better. He keeps improving and studying more, learning more and also his charity work, his motivational work, giving back. Everything put together has been tremendous,” Roberts said.
The medals 2013
• Gold Medal in 100 metre freestyle: 50.13 seconds
• Gold Medal in 50 metre breast stroke: 28.22 seconds
• Gold Medal in 50 metre butterfly: 25.08 seconds
FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
• Bronze Medal in the 50 metre freestyle: 21.51 seconds
FINA WORLD CUP
• Bronze Medal in 50 metre freestyle: 21.00 seconds
• Gold Medal in 100 metre individual medley: 51.15 seconds
• Bronze Medal in 100 metre individual medley: 51.65 seconds
• Bronze Medal in 50 metre freestyle: 21.49 secs
• Bronze medal in the 100 metre individual medley: 52.88 seconds
• Silver Medal in 50 metre freestyle: 21.32 seconds
• Bronze Medal in the 100 metre individual medley: 52.38 seconds
• Bronze Medal in the 100 metre individual medley: 51.87 seconds
• Silver Medal in the 50 metre freestyle: 21.20 seconds
• Silver Medal in the 100 metre individual medley: 51.75 seconds
• Bronze Medal in the 50 metre freestyle: 21.21 seconds
• Silver Medal in the 100 metre individual medley: 51.65 seconds
• Silver Medal in the 100 metre individual medley: 51.72 seconds