Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Can Jonathan Rea defend his title at Waterfront Hall tonight?

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Prize guy: Jonathan Rea picks up our main 2017 award
Prize guy: Jonathan Rea picks up our main 2017 award
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

After weeks of build-up, the 2018 Belfast Telegraph Awards take place tonight as we look back on Northern Ireland’s top performers across the sporting world from the last 12 months.

Held at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, some of the biggest names in local sport will be in attendance from Olympians, world champions and legends to emerging stars of the future.

Hosted by regular compere Claire McCollum, who this year is joined by UTV sports journalist Ruth Gorman as co-host, it’s set to be a spectacular night at the Waterfront.

Although there are plenty of awards up for grabs, undoubtedly the one to watch is the Sports Star of the Year, with four time World Superbike champions Jonathan Rea aiming to defend his title after being nominated again this time around.

He’ll face stiff opposition to win it again though, with Irish rugby stars Jacob Stockdale and Rory Best; pommel horse expert Rhys McClenaghan; women’s hockey hero Ayeisha McFerran and trap shooter Kirsty Hegarty his rivals.

There are several chances for individuals to come away with awards on the night, with the Malcolm Brodie Player of the Year, Sports Person with a Disability and the Coach of the Year awards all reflecting on great individual successes.

While the awards are looking back at 2018, there’s also an emphasis placed on the future of Northern Ireland sport, with the Young Player of the Year and George Best Breakthrough Awards focusing on those who could make an impact over the next few years.

Past glories will also be recognised as another Northern Irish sporting legend will be inducted into our Hall of Fame on the night too, while two Special Recognition awards will be handed out to two sports stars who have enjoyed excellent careers in their respective sports and have given their all to the discipline.

As always, grassroots sport and the hard work and dedication that goes into them will be recognised too through the Game Changer, Paddy Patterson Services to Sport and Local Heroes awards.

And last, but certainly not least, is our brand new Rising Star award which will recognise the up-and-coming talents of one of Northern Ireland’s top young stars destined sure to make a big impact over the next few years.

The award is sponsored by tyre company Bridgestone, who are the world’s largest tyre and rubber company and one of the leading tyre brands in Europe, the UK and Ireland. With headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, it was founded in 1931 by Shojiro Ishisbashi.

In 1988, Bridgestone purchased the iconic company Firestone, increasing its presence in America and Europe. Now, with a strong presence on every continent, Bridgestone have over 140,000 employees in more than 150 countries.

In Northern Ireland, Bridgestone are the number one supplier of tyres to public and private transport fleets, with their tyres available from all the major tyre retailers across Northern Ireland.

The night is sponsored by Banbridge shopping outlet The Boulevard, while drinks company Boost have come aboard as drinks sponsor.

Boost Drinks is the number one, two and three best-selling soft drink in the NI Convenience sector and focuses on energising everybody every day.

“We’re all about energising everybody every day so celebrating NI’s sporting achievements at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards is a natural fit and we wish everyone tremendous luck for the upcoming ceremony,” said Boost’s managing director and founder Simon Gray.