King and queen of the sprinting world and now, yet again, Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce have claimed the RJR Sports Foundation 2015 Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year crowns after last night’s coronation as Jamaican sporting royalty. Like he was last year, shot-putter O’Dayne Richards, who twice hit a national record – 21.69m – on his way to winning Pan American gold and a historic World Championships bronze, was presented with the runner-up to the Sportsman of the Year award. Sprint hurdles world champion Danielle Williams capped a terrific year with the runner-up to the Sportswoman of the Year trophy, after her personal best 12.57 brought her the gold in Beijing last summer. Exceptional seasons The lack of surprise around what was Bolt’s sixth and Fraser-Pryce’s third Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year titles speaks volumes to the exceptional seasons that both sprinters enjoyed, considering the highly successful year that their peers also registered. They are used to topping medal podiums, and the pair again shared the spotlight at the glitzy ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus – as they did in 2012 and 2013. Bolt helped himself to gold medals in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m in Beijing, while Fraser-Pryce followed up her World Championships gold medals in the 100m and 4x100m with the Diamond League 100m title. This win by Bolt means that a track and field athlete has won the National Sportsman of the Year title for 13 of the last 15 years, with cricketer Chris Gayle in 2010 and last year’s winner Nicholas Walters (boxer), being the exceptions. His other wins came in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013. The athletics dominance is even more pronounced on the female side, with only three non-track and field athletes winning the National Sportswoman of the Year award in its 54-year history. Fraser-Pryce also won this award in 2012 and 2013. The MVP Track Club star, who has won two Olympic and seven World Championships gold medals over a decorated career, was also presented with the Sagicor Icon Award. Novlene Williams-Mills, whose determined anchor leg lifted Jamaica to a gold medal in the World Championships 4x400m relay and who also successfully fought breast cancer, was recognised with the Chairman’s Award. Former Netball Jamaica president Marva Bernard was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Injury may have ruined his 2015 season but that hasn’t stopped Jason Livermore from thinking big. Axed by a leg ailment during last year’s National Championship 100 metre final, the 27 year-old Livermore is already looking forward to this season’s Nationals. He says his coach, Michael Clarke, is helping him to get back to his best. A late developer, the powerfully built Livermore slowly improved after finishing fourth in the 2007 Boys and Girls’ Championships Class One 100 metre final won by Yohan Blake for St Jago High in the record time of 10.21 seconds. His patient work paid off in 2013 when he took a bronze medal in the 200m at the Central American and Caribbean Championships and reached the semis of the event at the World Championships in Moscow. He followed that with a solid 2014 campaign and a bronze in the 200m at the Commonwealth Games. Sadly, the progress stopped last year. Not long after he helped Jamaica to win the 4x200m at the IAAF World Relays, his dreams of running in Beijing at the World Championships were crushed by his injury at the Nationals. He isn’t looking back at that disappointment. “Things have been going great, thanks to God,” he said. “My coach is ensuring that I do the necessary things to get me back where I was and better than I was before.” His coach Michael Clarke had directed him to personal bests of 10.05 for the 100m and 20.13 seconds in the 200m in 2013. He knows that he may need to be better than he was before to qualify for the Jamaican team to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. In 2015, six Jamaicans ran faster than his 100m lifetime best and three surpassed his career best in the 200m. Livermore is undaunted and seems to relish the competition. “Things are looking forward for now in the sprints because there are a lot of athletes in Jamaica, especially young sprinters,” he observed. “Looking at the sprints right now,” he projected, “2016 Jamaica trials is going to be a very lovely.” His target is simple. “It has always been the same … just go to trials, make the finals and be in the top three,” he said.