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Battle is on for our top awards after glorious year of NI sport 

Best of the year: Former Ireland and Ulster captain Rory Best joins Chris Nelmes from sponsors The Boulevard to set the ball rolling on the 2019 Belfast Telegraph Awards
Best of the year: Former Ireland and Ulster captain Rory Best joins Chris Nelmes from sponsors The Boulevard to set the ball rolling on the 2019 Belfast Telegraph Awards
Champion: 2018 Sports Star of the Year Jonathan Rea and his wife Tatia
Local Heroes winner Jennifer Hanna
Coaches of the Year Oran Kearney and Mickey Harte
Game Changer winner Shirley McCay
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Sports fans, clubs, sporting bodies and schools throughout Northern Ireland have been urged to nominate their top sporting stars for 2019 with the launch of the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards in partnership with The Boulevard, Banbridge.

The prestigious awards programme honours our top local sporting achievers in both the amateur and professional arenas.

Aiming for a hat-trick is motorcycling superstar Jonathan Rea, who retained his title last year when he walked away with the Sports Star of the Year crown and will be among the favourites for the marquee prize this time around too after making it five World Superbike crowns on the trot.

Also aiming to retain their title will be 2018’s Team of the Year the Belfast Giants, who completed their first ever Elite League and Challenge Cup double.

The gala ceremony attracts some of our most famous and successful sporting heroes and will take place at the newly extended Grand Ballroom suite at Belfast’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on Monday, January 20, 2020. UTV sports presenter Ruth Gorman will return for a second year to co-host with fellow TV personality Claire McCollum who has presented the awards many years running.

Backing the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards for a second year is title sponsor The Boulevard, Northern Ireland’s premier league outlet shopping complex housing over 50 leading brand name stores including new name Levi’s.

Chris Nelmes, retail director at The Boulevard, said he was thrilled to once again be the lead sponsor: “We’re pleased to continue our sponsorship of these awards for the second year in a row.

“As Northern Ireland’s biggest sports shopping destination, we’re really passionate about creating an interest and love of sport from an early age, and championing home-grown talent.

“Like us, many of our stores themselves support local GAA, rugby and football teams — especially kids’ teams — so Northern Irish sport is something we have a huge affinity with and will continue to do so. Best of luck to all nominated and we look forward to celebrating their successes.”

Helping launch this year’s Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards is Ulster, Ireland and British and Irish Lions rugby legend Rory Best, who was given a Special Recognition Award at this year’s ceremony.

The awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of local sports people from grassroots through to elite sports and the public can nominate in each of the 14 categories by completing and submitting a simple online nomination form at www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sportsawards2019/nominate

Belfast Telegraph group sports editor Jim Gracey explained: “We’re asking everyone to describe in 250 words or less why your nominated individual or team deserves to win a Belfast Telegraph Sports accolade. As well as their overall sporting achievements we’d like you to consider elements such as; their dedication to training; how they have improved their performances and gone over and above the norm to secure their goals.

“Also consider what it is that makes them a good role model and what makes them inspirational to other people.”

Entries close on Monday, December 2 at 12 noon and will be judged later in December by an experienced panel of sporting judges, which will be chaired by Jim Gracey.

He continued: “2019 has yet again been an amazing year for local sports people and teams and all around the world our sporting heroes have excelled.

“It’s important to salute our sports competitors, coaches and unsung heroes and I encourage everyone from members of the public to clubs, schools and governing bodies to put forward nominees for consideration from both grassroots and elite sports sectors.

“I’m looking forward to a great line-up of nominations.”

In addition to The Boulevard-backed top award, the Sports Star of the Year, individual successes will be reflected in the Malcolm Brodie Player of the Year, Sports Person with a Disability and Coach/Manager of the Year.

The future of sport will be heralded through the Young Player, Young Team, George Best Breakthrough and Rising Star awards.

Other key awards include Team of the Year, Special Recognition and our Game Changer award.

The Local Heroes trophy will be presented to an individual or team who have triumphed at grassroots level, the WJ ‘Paddy’ Patterson award recognises a person’s ‘service to sport’ over a long period of time and a famous face will be installed into the Hall of Fame.

THE AWARDS UP FOR GRABS

Sports Star of the Year

Sponsored by The Boulevard     

This award is given to a person from the province whose sporting performances or achievements are deemed to be outstanding. This category applies to high performance athletes in both the able-bodied and disability spheres. Recent winners have included Jonathan Rea, Carl Frampton, Michael Conlan and Rory McIlroy.

Hall of Fame

This award recognises an Ulster sportsperson whose contribution to sport through the years has been outstanding.

Malcolm Brodie Player of the Year

This award is given to an Ulster player whose sporting performances are identified with the province and whose performance and overall contribution are deemed outstanding. There are two awards in this category:

Platinum (for a full-time professional sportsperson)

Gold (for an amateur sportsperson)

Team of the Year

This award is given to a team based in or identified with Ulster, whether club or composite, which has achieved remarkable success in the current year. There are two awards in this category:

Platinum (for a full-time professional team)

Gold (for an amateur team)

Manager/Coach of the Year

This award is given to an individual identified within the province whose managing/coaching achievements are deemed outstanding. There are two awards in this category:

Platinum (for a full-time professional coach/manager)

Gold (for an amateur coach/manager)

Young Player of the Year

This award is given to an individual aged 19 or under on December 31, 2019 and identified with the province whose sporting performances or achievements are deemed outstanding.

Young Team of the Year

This award is given to a team aged 19 or under on  December 31, 2019 within the province whose sporting performances or achievements are deemed outstanding.

Sportsperson with a Disability

This category is open to grassroots teams and individuals within the province who are involved in a recognised category of sport for people with a disability, whether as performers, organisers or supporters.

George Best Breakthrough Award

This awards recognises a sporting individual who has made a spectacular rise during the past 12 months. This award is made by the sports writers of the Belfast Telegraph.

Game Changer Award

This is a female-only category  which aims to recognise an individual woman (aged 18 and over) who has made an impact on the Northern Ireland sporting landscape in the past year, making it better and stronger for females. It is open to female athletes, coaches, administrators and is accessible for all levels of sport, from grassroots to professional. The award is sponsored by Electric Ireland.

Rising Star Award

This category is awarded to a young competitor who has progressed in his or her field to the extent that the winner can confidently be expected to fulfil their potential at the top level in their sport.

Special Recognition Award

This award recognises outstanding achievement and is an additional award agreed by the judges. At the judge’s discretion, more than one award may be presented.

WJ ‘Paddy Patterson’ Award

This award recognises those individuals who have served Ulster sport with great distinction.

Local Heroes Award

This award recognises special achievement at grassroots level. Nominations can be for clubs and/or individuals.

So what are you waiting for? Nominate your local sporting heroes today and join us at our gala event to find out who the winners are.

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