Butterfield and Wells in line to be king for a year
Triathlete Tyler Butterfield and footballer Nahki Wells are expected to be among the favourites for the Male Athlete of the Year award at the 33rd Government Sports Awards tonight at The Fairmont Southampton, while swimmers Lisa Blackburn and Ashley Yearwood and track athlete Shianne Smith could vie for the female award.
Both Butterfield and Wells had outstanding performances in 2013 in their respective sports, with Butterfield starting the year by placing third in the Abu Dhabi Triathlon in March before following that up with a tenth-place finish in an Ironman event in Melbourne, Australia. He then ran to a maiden victory in the May 24 Half-Marathon Derby and, in October, placed seventh in the Hawaii Ironman World Championships.
Wells also had a spectacular year with his English club Bradford City, scoring 30 goals in the calendar year, including 15 in the second half of the season as his Sky Bet League Two side reached the Capital One Cup final where they lost to Swansea City, of the Barclays Premier League. Wells’s goals helped Bradford to secure promotion when, on a second trip to Wembley, they won the play-off final 3-0 against Northampton, with Wells becoming the first Bermudian to score a goal at the famous stadium.
Wells netted another 15 goals in the first half of the present campaign in League One and was subsequently sold to Huddersfield Town in the January transfer window for £1.3?million, making him the first Bermudian footballer to command a million-pound transfer fee.
Tyrone Smith is the reigning Male Athlete of the Year, having won the award for the past three years. Flora Duffy, last year’s women’s winner, has also won the title three times, including 2007 and 2008. Smith was third in a grand-prix meet in Tokyo and then in Austria before placing fourth in the Diamond League meet in Sweden. Last September, he won gold at the Amsterdam Flame Games in the Netherlands.
Duffy suffered with health issues in 2013, including a fractured foot during her triathlon season before coming back to place third in the Xterra World Championships in Hawaii last October.
The main contenders for the Female Athlete of the Year could include Blackburn, Yearwood and Smith. Blackburn won six medals, five of which were gold, at the Central American and Caribbean Amateur Conference Championships in Costa Rica and then followed up with four more individual medals at the Island Games held in Bermuda.
Yearwood was Bermuda’s most outstanding performer at the Island Games, bagging nine medals in total, including five individual and four in the relays. Included in her haul were four gold medals and a Games record in the 50?metres freestyle. Also having a successful Island Games was heptathlete Smith, who won three gold and a bronze medal in track and field events.
Swimmer Jesse Washington and middle-distance runner Kyrah Scraders were last year’s junior athletes of the year, and Scraders could be in contention again after some outstanding performances last year, including winning gold and silver medals at the Carifta Games in the Bahamas. She also set a Bermuda junior record in the 800?metres at the World Junior Championships in Ukraine.
Justin Donawa, who reached the final of the triple jump at the same meet, could be one of the contenders for the junior male award, one of ten categories in which athletes will be acknowledged, starting at 7pm.