West Indies middle-order batsman Shai Hope’s coming of age in 2017 saw him cop the 2017 National Sports Council’s (NSC) Sports Personality of the Year accolade at the NSC’s annual awards ceremony on Saturday night at the Frank Collymore Hall.
In addition to outstanding performances on the domestic front for Barbados, Hope put aside his initial rough entry into international cricket by performing with distinction on the tour of England last August when he notched twin centuries in a winning cause at Headingley. He had an overall excellent showing in England.
Hope’s successful tour followed encouraging performances in the home series against Pakistan that preceded it and also on the tour of Zimbabwe that followed the England tour.
Road tennis also took the spotlight with some of the island’s outstanding players receiving the Indigenous Sports Award. These were Kim Holder, Julian White, Sheldene Walrond, Antoine Daniel and Mark Griffith. During 2017 these five performed with great aplomb, winning basically every senior road tennis tournament staged on the island.
Shockingly, however, the man responsible for the major thrust in road tennis and bringing a hitherto unknown professionalism to the sports received no accolades. Indeed, Dale Clarke was not even mentioned at the awards ceremony. This was arguably one of the major letdowns of the occasion.
Darian King might have missed out on the Sports Personality of the Year award but the lawn tennis ace copped the Minister’s Award for his terrific showing in Davis Cup action as well as on the professional ITF circuit. Last year he became the first Barbadian to qualify for the main draw of the US Open.
The Junior Outstanding Sportsperson award for female athletes was a foregone conclusion with Meagan Best being duly recognized for her brilliance in 2017. Best dominated in domestic and regional squash tournaments and ended the year as the undisputed Caribbean squash queen. The male equivalent award went to Orlando Husbands for his prowess on the chessboard.
Receiving the award for Senior Sports Personality of the Year was Chelsea Tuach. 2017 was an incredible year for the surfing sensation. Among a number of excellent performances, the 22-year-old made history by becoming the first Barbadian to capture a medal at the 13th Pan American Surfing Games held at the Punta Rocas Beach in Lima, Peru. She clinched silver behind gold medallist Ornella Pellizzari of Argentina and ahead of bronze medal winner Mathea Olin of Canada. Tuach is scheduled to compete at the World Qualifying Series in Florida this week and four other events in Australia later this year.
Basketballer Rasheed Maynard, son of the late national basketballer Ryan Maynard, footballer Dishon Howell, who made his senior national debut last year, and boxer Jabali Breedy, received the Emerging Athletes Award.
The sports programme at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, has been one of the most successful undertakings in the sporting arena in Barbados, reaping success in several areas, including football, cricket and netball. On Saturday night the programme received added vindication when the UWI Blackbirds received the 2017 Club Award.
Barbados TODAY’s photojournalist Morissa Lindsay received the Media Award for 2017. During the year Lindsay covered almost every sporting activity in the island, inclusive of football, cricket, athletics, squash, badminton, hockey, volleyball, basketball, tennis and netball and swimming. Her crowning achievement, however, was her unrivalled coverage of the CARIFTA Games in Willemstad Curaçao, in April. Also recognized in this category were Ezra Stuart, Andre Springer and Justin Marville.
During the ceremony, Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley congratulated the awardees and encouraged them to continue the pursuit of excellence in their respective fields. He highlighted the important role which sport played in personal and national development. He noted that the individual sports federations had a critical role to play in communities across the island in identifying and developing talent. He also said sporting activity was more than just a pastime.
“We should not limit ourselves to thinking of sports as another pastime. It is not. It is a distinctive opportunity with important social and economic benefits . . . It is an opportunity to give definition to the aspirations of a wide range of our youth attaining the status of world champions,” he said, while referencing outstanding performers such as swimmer Danielle Titus, Meagan Best and Darian King.
Other awardees: Carlsen Leacock (Groundsman); Mark Sealy (Seniors); Che Simmons, Jacob Bethell, Micah Greenidge, Shaquan Belle, Vanessa Greenidge and Samiya Dell (Youth); Bayley’s Primary and Foundation (Schools); The Learning Centre (Special Needs); Challenor Jones (Lifetime); Randy Harris (Administrator); Guardian General Insurance, Bico, Sports & Games (Sponsors); Jennifer Grant (Community); Anthea Ishmael (scorer, BCA), Dave Bernard (motorsports), Jabez Bovell (football), Latonia Blackman (netball), Marcia Oxley (track and field), Mike Goodard (horseracing announcer) (Special Awards); Ricky Clarke (Sports Tourism); Barbados Federation of Island Triathletes (Association Award); Rhett Cumberbatch (Coach); Barbados 4×100 team at the IAAF World Relays (Team Award).