Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: The best of the best up for our sporting Oscars

By Steven Beacom

Tonight's the night for the star-studded Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards... Northern Ireland's sporting Oscars.

It's a night when we honour the country's top achievers in the amateur and professional arenas and find out who will be crowned our 2013 Sports Star of the Year.

The ceremony will be held at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Belfast and compered by Jackie Fullerton and Claire McCollum.

It is always an entertaining and enlightening evening with guests forever amazed at the incredible array of sporting talent in the province, in particular the youngsters rising through their respective fields at such an impressive rate.

The main prize is the coveted Sports Star of the Year, won 12 months ago by Holywood golfing hero Rory McIlroy. There are also a host of other awards celebrating the success our individuals and teams have enjoyed in the past year.

The categories are the George Best Breakthrough prize, Player of the Year, Team of the Year, Young Player of the Year, Young Team of the Year, Sports Person with a Disability and Coach/Manager of the Year.

As in years gone by there will be a Special Recognition award and we will pay tribute to those behind the scenes who don't necessarily get the rewards their efforts deserve, with our Local Heroes award and the Paddy Patterson Services to Sport prize.

And there will be a memorable moment for one of Ulster's sporting greats who will be inducted into our Hall of Fame, joining legendary figures of Northern Ireland sport.

The Player of the Year prize has been named after Dr Malcolm Brodie, in honour of our late, great Sports Editor who sadly passed away last year.

With Northern Ireland's current sporting heroes producing so many magnificent performances around the globe, the competition for the main prize is stronger than ever.

In 2013 stunning feats were achieved by boxer Carl Frampton, cyclist Martyn Irvine, jump jockey Tony McCoy, motorcyclists Michael Dunlop and Eugene Laverty, skier Kelly Gallagher, athletes Michael McKillop and Jason Smyth, rugby player Tommy Bowe and footballer Liam Boyce, so it gives you an indication just how tough it was to choose an overall winner.

Armagh-based health foods company Linwoods are the title sponsor for what promises to be a special evening not only for the winners and nominees, but also Antoinette McKeown, Sport NI's new chief executive, who will be attending her first sports awards.

Antoinette is looking forward to being part of an enthusiastic audience packed with sporting heroes, sporting volunteers, sporting administrators and massive sports fans.

Northern Ireland sport has every right to feel proud — we are definitely a nation which punches above its weight — and tonight there will be much to admire and cheer.

Those attending are advised to arrive by 6.45pm.

In tomorrow's Belfast Telegraph there will be total coverage of the biggest and best sports awards show in the country and in Wednesday's paper there will be a special supplement celebrating all the award winners, nominees and their achievements.

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