The race for Jamaica’s Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year for 2023 has officially begun, with the announcement of the nominees on Wednesday. The 63rd RJR Sports Foundation Women and Men Athletes of the Year will see a fierce competition among some of the nation’s top athletic talents, with World Athletics Championships gold medallists Shericka Jackson, Danielle Williams, and Antonio Watson among the standout contenders.
The nominees for the People’s Choice Award include Jackson’s impressive 200m victory, Williams’ triumph in the 100m hurdles, and Watson’s groundbreaking performance at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest. The anticipation for these accolades is high, considering the outstanding achievements of these athletes on the global stage.
The winners of the prestigious awards will be unveiled during a ceremony scheduled for January 19, 2024. Jackson, who is considered a heavy favorite to secure the award she shared with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in 2022, showcased another stellar season, adding a silver medal in the 100m at the World Championships in Budapest. Her exceptional form was highlighted by securing the Diamond League 100m and 200m titles in Eugene, Oregon.
Williams, too, enjoyed a remarkable year, surprising many by claiming victory in the 100m hurdles in Budapest, where she outperformed formidable rivals such as Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, Kendra Harrison, and Tobi Amusan.
The competition for the Women Athlete of the Year is intensified with the inclusion of World Championship bronze medallists Rushell Clayton and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, along with Suncorp Super Netball League standout Jhaniele Fowler.
Antonio Watson, the trailblazing Jamaican sprinter, leads the nominations for the Men Athlete of the Year. Watson made history as the first Jamaican man in 40 years to clinch the gold medal in the World Championships 400m.
The list of male nominees also features World Championships 110m hurdles silver medalist and Diamond League champion Hansle Parchment, along with standout long jumpers Wayne Pinnock, Tajay Gayle, the silver and bronze medalists from Budapest as well as Pan American 400m hurdles champion Jaheel Hyde, and motorsports star Fraser McConnell.
The People’s Choice Award nominations encompass memorable moments, including Shamar Nicholson’s equalizing goal in the recent CONCACAF Nations League quarter-final match against Canada and Drew Spence’s incredible free kick against Canada in their Olympic qualifier.
The selection panel, chaired by Mike Fennell, boasts a distinguished lineup including retired media practitioner Courtney Sergeant, Olympian Deon Hemmings-McCatty, President of Jamaica’s Inter-Secondary School Sports Association Keith Wellington, and Michael Hall, former chairman of the Sports Foundation and League Operations Manager of the Caribbean Premier League.