Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards judges faced 'most difficult choice ever'

Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards

By Steven Beacom

The judging process for the 2016 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards proved to be one of the 'most challenging ever' due to the incredible success of Northern Ireland's sporting heroes last year.

Winners of the awards will be announced on February 6 at the Waterfront Hall with respected broadcasters Craig Doyle and Claire McCollum presenting the star-studded show.

The awards ceremony is recognised as the biggest and best in sport here with world class performers and household names mixing with talented youngsters and volunteers who do outstanding work at grassroots level.

On the night, numerous trophies will be handed out including the top prize of Sports Star of the Year, which was won by boxer Michael Conlan at the 2015 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards.

A sporting icon from these parts will be inducted into our Hall of Fame following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as the late, great George Best and Jack Kyle, Pat Jennings, Barry McGuigan and Martin O'Neill, who was given the prestigious honour at last year's event.

Northern Ireland's 'Golden Girl' Dame Mary Peters is, of course, also in the Hall of Fame. The 1972 Olympic pentathlon champion was one of four judges presented with the tough task of deciding on the shortlist and winners for the awards.

Dame Mary was joined on the panel by revered hockey international Angela Platt, representing the NI Sports Forum, Director of Performance at Sports Institute Northern Ireland (SINI) Shaun Ogle and chairperson of the judges, Belfast Telegraph Group Sports Editor Jim Gracey.

They discussed and debated the categories before coming up with their nominees and those who will lift the prizes.

All will be revealed next month at the Waterfront Hall and YOU could be there to see the ceremony, joining the great and good of Northern Ireland sport.

Tickets cost £70 plus VAT. To book please contact Jcomms on 02890 760066 or email sportsawards@jcomms.co.uk

On the judging process, Jim Gracey admitted choices were made all the more testing because of the quality of the contenders across the board.

He said: "The Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards have been going for over two decades and judging for 2016 proved to be one of the most challenging ever.

"Northern Ireland had so much sporting success last year and the high quality of the candidates in every category made it demanding, but after much discussion we made our decisions and look forward to revealing them on February 6 at the Waterfront Hall.

"I must pay tribute to my fellow judges, Dame Mary, Angela and Shaun, who all did such an excellent job."

One award we are asking the public to vote for is Northern Ireland's favourite sporting moment of 2016.

There are 10 moments shortlisted. They are:

• Gareth McAuley's Euro 2016 NI goal v Ukraine

• Carl Frampton beating Leo Santa Cruz

•Jonathan Rea retaining his World Superbike title

• Bethany Firth's golden world record

• Jason Smyth's gold at the Paralympics

• Michael McKillop's gold at Paralympics

• Rory Best leading Ireland to victory over New Zealand

• Rory McIlroy winning FedEx Cup

•Tyrone lifting the Ulster Championship

• Alastair Seeley breaking Robert Dunlop's NW200 record

Go online to vote for your favourite at www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport

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