OLYMPIANS Nicholas Paul (cycling) and Michelle-Lee Ahye (100m) won the 2021 Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards respectively.
The pair copped the top awards at the TTOC’s 27th annual awards ceremony held virtually on Wednesday.
This was Ahye’s fourth capture of the prestigious award having won it annually from 2016 to 2018. Paul received this accolade for a second time, the first in 2019. He also doubled up on the night by lifting the People’s Choice award, his third time topping the category.
The cyclist’s sportsman of the year award comes after an array of powerful performances beginning with his Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games. Sixth in the men’s sprint and 12th in the keirin there spearheaded a medal frenzy post-Olympics for Paul.
He went on to win triple-gold (sprint, keirin, 1km time trial) at the Nations Cup, silver (1km time trial) at World Championships and silver at the Champions League second leg.
Ahye earned the top prize following her eighth-place finish in the women’s 100m at the Tokyo Games, placing third in the semi-final of that event, five golden finishes in California (two), Poland, Hungary and Italy, fourth at another meet in Poland and fifth in Germany.
On receiving TTOC’s highest female award for the fourth time, Ahye said, “It’s an honour to receive the sportswoman of the year award 2021 from TTOC. Thank you everyone for your support. I really appreciate it.”
Additionally, Nikoli Blackman (swimming) and Tobagonian Raeanne Serville (athletics/100m) were adjudged Junior Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year. This was Blackman’s second capture of this award.
Olympic debutant and women’s long jump tenth place Tyra Gittens won the Sports Personality of the Year award while longstanding cricketer Anisa Mohammed took home the Future is Female award.
The People’s Choice award, which was decided by online votes from the public, went to ace cyclist Paul while the Alexander B. Chapman award was presented to veteran sport administrator and senior counsel Elton Prescott.
The theme of this year’s ceremony was “The glass is not half empty.”
Delivering the feature address was Asia-based TT pro hockey umpire Ayanna McClean, who was presented with the International Hockey Federation golden whistle for overseeing her 100th game as an international umpire on December 7.
McClean shared snippets of her journey through officiating and highlighted how important it was for her to place more emphasis and focus on the opportunities presented to her, and not the drawbacks.
Additionally, TTOC president Brian Lewis praised all national athletes on their performances over the past 12 months and applauded their bravery and determination to endure many pandemic challenges en route to representing TT on the big stage.
Lewis said, “In 2021 our athletes showed that they faced their fears. They went to Tokyo 2020 and gave their best.
“They did not make excuses and of course, they showed emotional, physical and mental stamina by facing their disappointments, their failures, their mistakes and the criticism of those who weren't in the arena; who did not have to overcome economic issues, lack of training issues, doubt tissues, death in their families and close circles.
“As we look forward to 2022, we are encouraged by the example and the discipline and the resolve showed by team TTO at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and at the Junior Pan Am Games.”
Lewis also reviewed the experiences of athletes and officials in 2021 and expressed his appreciation to all as the TTOC closed the curtain on its 75th anniversary celebrations.
As TTOC patron, TT President Paula-Mae Weekes credited all athletes on their commitment and resilience to go out and perform amid a global health crisis. She saluted their service through sport.
“While the TT flag was not hoisted at any of the medal ceremonies in Japan, our athletes persevered, distinguishing themselves and doing us proud on the international scene later in the year, reminding us all that they were still a force to be reckoned with,” said Weekes.
She also made special mention of athletes such as Dylan Carter, who captured 23 International Swimming League medals and splashed to World Championships silver in the men’s 50m butterfly.
Pro cyclist and Olympic debutant Teniel Campbell, her brother Akil Campbell (gold in the scratch race at Nations Cup) and Junior Pan American Championships medallists Triq Horsford and Kelsey Daniel were also paid tribute to by Weekes.
She closed, “We are on the cusp of a new year, the ideal vantage point from which you can look back and appreciate small triumphs, even where you did not accomplish all your goals and identify your errors, challenges and frustrations for the lessons they have taught you.
“And a point also from which to look forward, committing yourself wholeheartedly to going faster, higher, stronger together.”
2021 TTOC Awardees
Senior Sportsman – Nicholas Paul (cycling/sprint)
Senior Sportswoman – Michelle-Lee Ahye (athletics/100m)
Junior Sportsman – Nikoli Blackman (swimming)
Junior Sportswoman – Raeanna Serville (athletics/100m)
Sports Personality – Tyra Gittens (long jump/heptathlon)
Future is Female – Anisa Mohammed (cricket)
People’s Choice – Nicholas Paul (cycling/sprint)
Alexander B. Chapman – Elton Prescott SC