HANDS FULL: Olympic gold medallist Keshorn Walcott poses with his four awards after the function. –Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

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Olympic champ Walcott big winner at SOSA awards

By Roger Seepersad

Just as he did at the London 2012 Olympic Games to win javelin gold, Keshorn Walcott dominated the field at the second annual Spirit of Sport Awards at Queen's Hall, St Ann's on Friday night to pick up the Male Athlete of the Year accolade.

In fact Walcott was the biggest awardee on the night, picking up four of the five awards for which he was nominated.

His other awards included Sport Performance of the Year, Breakthrough Athlete of the Year, and Consistent Performer of the Year.

The nominees for the Sport Performance of the Year—George Bovell III, quarter-miler Lalonde Gordon, cricketer Sunil Narine (who was the only non-Olympic nominee), sprinter Richard Thompson, cyclist Njisane Phillip and Walcott—all received commemorative rings.

The athletes also presented a ring to Minister of Sport Anil Roberts.

Walcott's 84.58-metre throw made him only T&T's second Olympic Gold medallist after Hasely Crawford, who won the 100m event at the 1976 Montreal Games.

The 19-year-old Toco athlete was also nominated for the Record-Breaking Performance of the Year, which went to Njisane Phillip, who finished fourth in the match sprint event at the London Olympics.

Phillip too was nominated for five awards, including Male Athlete of the Year, Consistent Performer, Sport Performance and Breakthrough Athlete.

Phillip's manager Peter Maharaj and parents Nicholson Phillip, Vere Marie Whiteman and Phillip Whiteman were also winners on the night, copping the awards for Manager of the Year and Family Team of the Year respectively.

The other nominees for Manager of the Year were Kairon Serrette--who manages sailor Andrew Lewis--and Sean Roach who is Walcott's manager.

Walcott's coach Ismael Lopez Mastrapa was also in the spotlight, winning the Coach of the Year award ahead of national coaches, golf's Christopher Richards, Jamaal Shabazz (football) and David Williams (cricket).

T&T's female sprinter Kelly Ann Baptiste who was sixth in the Olympic 100m sprint final in a time of 10.94 seconds, was voted the Female Athlete of the Year. Other nominees for the accolade were T&T and West Indies women's team skipper Merissa Aguilleira, Olympic shot putter Cleopatra Borel, cyclist Jodi Goodridge and last year's winner, T&T and West Indies off-spinner Anisa Mohammed.

Also honoured on the night was McDonald Bailey, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award, and will also get a monthly stipend from the Sport Company of T&T (SPORTT).

The Spirit of Sport Awards also recognised young athletes through the Emerging Athlete of the Year award, which was won by sprinter Machel Cedenio, who beat out table tennis player Arun Roopnarine and promising cricketer Jeremy Solozano.

The T&T athletes who medalled at the London Games were also presented with monetary rewards for their outstanding performances.

The members of the 4x100m relay team—Richard Thompson, Marc Burns, Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callendar and the 4x400m relay team—Lalonde Gordon, Jarrin Solomon, Ade Alleyne-Forte and Deon Lendore, each received a cheque for $300,000, as did swimmer George Bovell III for his 2004 Olympic bronze medal in the 200m individual medley.

Both T&T relay teams won bronze in London.

Gordon received an additional cheque for $300,000 for his bronze in the 400m final, but had to share the Comeback Performance of the Year prize with sprinter Thompson.

The man who beat Gordon to win gold in the 400m final in London, Kirani James of Grenada, was also honoured at the ceremony, taking home the Caribbean Spirit of Sport Award.

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