As expected track and field ran away with the majority of top prizes at the 33rd National Sports Council’s (NSC) Awards but when the night had concluded pride of place had gone to Sports Personality for 2015, Jason Holder.
The current West Indies and Barbados captain also captured Senior Sportsman for 2015 on a night when West Indies Cricket Board’s chairman of selectors Clive Lloyd was the featured speaker. Also in attendance were Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Stephen Lashley, interim chief executive officer of the NSC and Gymnasium Limited, Jerry Blenman and chairman of the NSC, Michael Power.
Speaking on the subject The New Economic Frontier, Lloyd called for a single Caribbean unit to be represented at the summer Olympics, noting that it would speak volumes to the world that as a region we were more than good competing at various sports.
“The Caribbean region has announced to the world that we are competent in every area of sports and can compete with every nation on earth once we are given the tools and the opportunity. From Usain Bolt, Ryan Brathwaite, Shelly-Ann Fraser or any other great athlete competing at the highest level as members of each individual state, how much better would the Caribbean medal table look at the Olympics if instead of Jamaica or Trinidad or any other Caribbean state we have one Caribbean. It is time our governmental organizations explore the possibility of fielding one single unit at the summer games.
“Although not an economist I am sure that some development can generate a level of prosperity in our individual states. This can produce the high levels of employment, improve the health of respective nations and convince the world that we are more than good at different variety of sports. Other nations have done it and so can we,” said 71-year-old Lloyd who was the most successful West Indies captain of all times in the years between 1974 and 1985.
Lloyd also received an appreciation award and also witnessed his dearest friend and veteran broadcaster Tony Cozier receive a Lifetime Achievement Award along with Sir Austin Sealy, a noted sports administrator and considered the father of the CARIFTA Games.
There were many awardees and winners on the night such as top Senior Sports Woman of the Year, Akela Jones, who came up against Chelsea Tuach who had another great year on the surf board and hurdler Kierre Beckles.
Jones, the former Springer Memorial darling, had a great year when she set new national records with personal best of 6.64 and 1.91 in the long jump and high jump respectively.
On the flip side of things the Senior Outstanding Male trophy awarded to Holder called in to question the criteria of the award given to the allrounder currently on national duties in Trinidad and Tobago with the Barbados team playing the NAGICO Super50. He was represented at the ceremony by his mother, Denise.
The second youngest ever West Indies skipper at just 23 years old, Holder surprisingly took the coveted award for captaining the West Indies One Day side at the 2015 Cricket World Cup where he scored half centuries against India and South Africa respectively and captured four wickets for 27 runs against the United Arab Emirates along with three for 48 against Zimbabwe. The West Indies were beaten by Ireland and eliminated early from the competition.
At home he scored an unbeaten 103 not out against England at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua where West Indies drew the match, along with an unbeaten 82 against Australia at Sabina Park, Jamaica, where West Indies lost.
Following those performances he was named Test and One-Day captain, which, obviously swayed the NSC’s decision toward the talented cricketer.
No doubt Holder is deserving of recognition but Barbados has stood out globally on the international tennis map in a big way in 2015 and lawn tennis star Darian King has largely been responsible for that. His name can be heard and seen as far as the US Open and Australian Open, two of four major Grand Slam tournaments in the world that have featured tennis greats Serena Williams and Roger Federer amongst many.
King won six Futures singles title last year at tournaments held in Panama, Mexico and United States of America. He also triumphed in tournaments in Venezuela and El Salvador. He also captured seven doubles titles across the USA, South and Central America all of which allowed him to reach a career singles ranking of 193 in August of 2015.
King wasn’t finished there he made it to California events where he defeated two highly acclaimed top 100 ranked players in the world.
In addition he won five singles and two doubles on home soil in March, September and October when Barbados fought to ensure they stayed alive for 2016 in Group l of the Americas Zone Davis Cup ties. And to top off what has been a phenomenal year of tennis for the 23-year-old, he booked his place in the Australian Open becoming the first ever Barbadian to play at the event. King could feel justly aggrieved as he deserved significant recognition on Saturday night.
Gold medallist at the World Youth Commonwealth Games in the 400m hurdles Rivaldo Leacock and Sada Williams who captured silver and bronze at the junior Pan American event were once again named Junior Outstanding Sportspersons after winning at the just concluded Barbados Olympic Association awards. Leacock took the award over sprinter Mario Burke, cyclist Joshua Kelly and volleyballer Ahkeem Mayers. Meanwhile Williams stood out over Mary Fraser who won three gold medals at the 2015 CARIFTA Games held in St Kitts where she was the recipient of the Austin Sealy award.
Fraser did not walk away empty-handed, though, receiving the Minister’s Award, from Sports Minister Lashley.
During his remarks Lashley highlighted the outstanding performances of the athletes and encouraged them to strive for greatness.