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Butterfield and Yearwood given top billing

Tyler Butterfield, Bermuda's top triathlete, was crowned Male Athlete of the Year for a second time at the Government Sports Awards at The Fairmont Southampton on Saturday night.

Butterfield's 2013, the best year of his career, was littered with outstanding performances, none more so than his superb seventh-place finish at the Hawaii Ironman World Championship, which is considered one of the toughest races in the world.

The 31-year-old also finished second at the Ironman Cozumel in Mexico in December, tenth at the Ironman Melbourne last March and clinched a maiden victory in the May 24 Half-Marathon Derby.

Butterfield, a two-times Olympian, first won the Male Athlete of the Year award in 2007.

Ashley Yearwood, the Bermuda swimmer, was the winner of the Female Athlete of the Year award, only two years after being named Young Female Athlete of the Year. Yearwood was Bermuda's most successful performer at the NatWest Island Games, seizing nine medals, including four gold and a competition record in the 50 metres freestyle.

Neither Butterfield nor Yearwood were able to attend last night's ceremony, held for the second successive year in the hotel's Pionciana Ballroom.

Speaking via Skype from his home in Colorado, Butterfield said: “It's a true honour to even be nominated, and an even greater honour to say for one year, out of all of the [male] athletes in Bermuda, I won the award. It's incredible.

“I want to thank everyone for believing in me. It's always an honour to represent Bermuda.”

Jim Butterfield, a former top triathlete, accepted the award on his son's behalf. “I can assure you that Tyler is a very proud Bermudian,” he said.

“Coming home and running with all of the other Bermudians on May 24 will be the highlight in his competition calendar, as well as representing Bermuda at the Commonwealth Games. He will be very proud and humbled to win this award.”

Butterfield managed to hold off a fierce challenge from Nahki Wells, the Huddersfield Town striker, who missed out on the top award despite becoming the first Bermudian to score at Wembley Stadium in the Sky Bet League Two play-off final to clinch promotion with Bradford City. He was also a key player in Bradford's memorable run to the Capital One Cup final.

Also speaking via Skype, Wells said: “If you put the best into everything you do, if you train hard and have a positive outlook on life, not just in football but outside of football, that will have a massive effect on what you want to achieve in life.

“I just think you have to take every step as it comes and be focused on what you want to achieve. It feels great to be nominated for any award back at home. It just shows the hard work that Bermudian athletes put in abroad is noticed and I'm very grateful.”

Yearwood, who also left a video message, said that it was a great feeling to claim the top female honour. “It's great to be recognised for my performances of last year,” Yearwood said. “Two years ago I won the Junior Female Athlete of the Year award and it's great to come back two years later and win this award.”

Kyrah Scraders, the middle-distance runner, became the first athlete to win back-to-back Junior Female Athlete of the Year awards.

Scraders won 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 in July.

“I'm honoured to win [the award] for a second year,” Scraders said. “It's nice that people keep watching me and are noticing my hard work and dedication to track and field.”

Justin Donawa won the Junior Male Athlete of the Year award in recognition of his superb showing in the triple jump at the World Junior Championships in Ukraine, placing seventh in the triple jump with personal-best leap of 15.65 metres.

“It feels great to be among such talented athletes from all over the country,” Donawa said. “It's a delight, really, to win this award. I've worked really hard over the last two or three years at triple jump, which was a new event for me, and now I'm starting to excel.”

Tyler Butterfield enjoyed a career-best 2013 Photo by Akil Simmons

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Published March 23, 2014 at 10:50 pm (Updated March 24, 2014 at 8:29 pm)

Butterfield and Yearwood given top billing

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