In a dazzling celebration of Jamaican excellence, Shericka Jackson and Antonio Watson emerged victorious as Jamaica’s Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year at the prestigious 2023 RJRGLEANER Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards held at the iconic Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. The atmosphere was electric as the nation came together to honor these outstanding athletes, marking their stellar achievements on the global stage.
Shericka Jackson, with her crown gleaming under the Caribbean sun, claimed the Sportswoman of the Year title for the first time, capping off an extraordinary 2023 season. The 29-year-old sprint sensation showcased her unparalleled prowess by successfully defending her World 200m title in Budapest with a jaw-dropping personal best of 21.41 seconds – the second-fastest time ever recorded. Jamaicans around the world erupted in joy as Jackson secured her place in history.
But that was not all for Jackson; she sprinted her way to 100m silver with a lightning-fast time of 10.72 and sealed her season with a sensational sprint double at the Diamond League Final in Eugene, clocking 10.70 for the 100m and 21.57 for the 200m. Her exceptional dedication and talent were further highlighted with a new personal best of 10.65 in the 100m, making her the fifth-fastest in history. In July, she defended her National title with flair.
The celebration continued with the revelation of the Sportsman of the Year, and it was none other than Antonio Watson who sent shockwaves through the world of track and field. Watson, a 22-year-old trailblazer, became the first Jamaican man in four decades to claim gold in the 400m at the World Championships. His remarkable journey included a personal best of 44.14 in the semi-finals and a triumphant 44.22 in the final.
Watson's golden feat was celebrated not only by Jamaicans but by enthusiasts worldwide. The people's choice award was rightfully bestowed upon him, acknowledging his exceptional gold-medal-winning performance that left the world in awe. It was a historic moment as Watson became the first Jamaican male to secure the award since the legendary Bert Cameron in 1983.
Danielle Williams, the queen of the hurdles, was named runner-up for Sportswoman of the Year, adding to the impressive array of Jamaican talent celebrated on this grand occasion. On the men's side, Hansle Parchment, a force to be reckoned with, was recognized as the runner-up for Sportsman of the Year.
The night also saw other luminaries from the world of sports receiving well-deserved accolades. Fraser McConnell and Sara Misir, blazing trails in motorsports, claimed the titles of Male and Female Athletes of the Year. Notable mentions went to reggae boyz captain and goalkeeper Andre Blake, boxing maestro Ricardo "Big 12" Brown, CAC Games bronze medallist Tahlia Richardson for badminton, and Sherea Clarke and Wyne McCalla for their contributions to bodybuilding.
Jamaica's heart swelled with pride as cricket sensation Rashada Williams, a powerhouse in both Jamaica and the West Indies, was rightfully acknowledged for her stellar contributions to the sport.
With the stage set for the upcoming Paris Olympics 2024, the spirit of Jamaican athleticism burns brighter than ever. As we look to the future, let us continue to celebrate the great spirit of our athletes and the rich legacy they carry forward onto the world stage. Jamaica, land we love, continues to shine in the realm of sports, and the journey has only just begun.