Icons will gather at Jamaica awards

Usain Bolt is one of many of the Caribbean’s top sportsmen expected at a gala sports awards night in Jamaica.

He will be joined by John Barnes, the new Jamaican football coach and boxing greats Mike McCallum, Maurice Hope and Roy Gumbs.

The Olympic sprint hero and triple world record holder heads the star studded evening as a host of the region’s sporting greats will be honoured for their achievements at the inaugural staging of the Caribbean Sports Awards Icons on November 7 at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.

There will be top cabaret acts, including Stella Starr, the world renowned singer from Britain who is now based in South Africa.

Sports promoter Al Hamilton, MBE, has worked unstintingly for six years to make this event happen which he hopes to host in the Cayman Islands one day.

Hamilton founded the Commonwealth Sports Awards in London in 1980 to celebrate achievements of sports personalities from the Commonwealth.

That annual event has become a huge fixture in the sporting calendar and been held not just in England but also Ghana, Uganda, St Lucia and Jamaica amongst many other countries.

Next year the Commonwealth Sports Awards – which is sanctioned by the Commonwealth Federation – will be held in Nigeria for the first time.

Legendary names who have regularly attended the Commonwealth Sports Awards include Lennox Lewis, Courtney Walsh, Ian Wright, Bob Beamon, John Barnes and Clive Lloyd.

The Cameroon football team, including the great Roger Milla, were a sensation at the 1990 Commonwealth Sports awards, only a few months after their heroic showing at the World Cup finals.

Other recipients of CSA trophies include Daley Thompson, Ian Botham, Azumah Nelson and Chris Hoy, the British cyclist who won three golds in Beijing.

Hamilton sees the Caribbean Sports Awards Icons as an obvious addition to the CSA.

‘It will honour participants both past and present and I hope to see Usain there as well as many of the triumphant Jamaicans from the Beijing Olympics,’ he said.

‘We are looking to give out no more than 10 trophies and athletics is the only category that will feature both male and female. Every other category will only be one person.’

Front runners for honours besides Bolt include Sir Garfield Sobers, Brian Lara, Viv Richards, Merlene Ottey, McCallum and Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore. There will be no posthumous awards.

Hamilton’s criteria for selection is that recipients must have excelled at a major championship or for a team in athletics, boxing, football, cricket, netball and swimming.

Nominations are being accepted from sports journalists across the Caribbean region and the cut off date is the end of September.

The panel of adjudicators will include Commonwealth Games Federation president Mike Fennel, 1988 Olympic 200 metres silver medallist Grace Jackson, Caribbean track and field president Teddy McCook and sports journalist Lance Whittaker.

Hamilton developed his career as a sports journalist and editor in London for the Caribbean Times and the Gleaner in the Seventies. He also guided the young Frank Bruno as an amateur boxer. Bruno went on to win the WBC heavyweight title.

Hamilton’s long service in promoting Caribbean sport saw him awarded the MBE by the Queen in 2005. It was fitting reward for a man who has spent decades honouring sportsmen and women.

In 1982 he was author of the acclaimed History of Black Pearls of Soccer. In 1987 he organised the first football tournament between black British players and the Jamaican national team which laid the foundations of professional football and Jamaica qualifying for the World Cup finals in 1998.

In 1999 he co-authored with Rodney Hines A-Z of Black Football. Hamilton is a respected figure in Africa now and regularly organises sports awards events in Ghana.

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