FORMER West Indies cricket captain Chris Gayle and sprint queen Veronica Campbell Brown were named 2010 Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year at the RJR Sports Foundation Awards Ceremony held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Friday evening.
Gayle became the first cricketer since Courtney Walsh in 2000 to win the coveted prize for his highest Test score of 333 runs in the first Test against Sri Lanka last November.
Gayle's knock off 437 balls included a record 34 fours and nine sixes and as chairman of the selection committee, Mike Fennell, told the Sunday Observer, it "was the performance of the year".
He beat out runner-up, Commonwealth Games 100-metres winner Lerone Clarke; national 400m record-holder Jermaine Gonzales; Nesta Carter — who lowered his 100m personal best three times this year and consolidated his position as the third fastest Jamaican behind fellow nominees Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell.
Also in the mix were Commonwealth Games silver medallist and CAC Games shot put winner Dorian Scott; Lansford Spence, who won the 200m silver medal in Delhi; Winter Olympian at ski cross Errol Kerr, and cricketer Brendan Nash.
Campbell Brown added the 100m World Indoor title to her list of achievements in 2010 and was also the fastest woman of the year over the distance after clocking 10.78 seconds at the Prefontaine Classic, for which she also copped the People's Choice Performance Award — an accolade voted on by members of the public.
Campbell Brown topped swimmer Alia Atkinson, who won four gold medals at the Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC); Commonwealth Games high jump silver medallist Sheree Francis; triple jump gold medallist Trecia-Kaye Smith and 400m hurdles bronze medallist Nickeisha Wilson; 400m hurdler and IAAF Diamond League winner Kaliese Spencer, and cricketer of the year Stafanie Taylor.
Gayle was unable to collect his prize as he is currently in Australia playing in the Big Bash 20/20 tournament.
Campbell Brown said she would be using most of her winnings to help further the cause of women's issues via her recently launched foundation.
"I'm honoured to have received the award... it's a blessing," she told the Sunday Observer. "For this season I'm just going to continue to train and pray for good health."
In honour of the 50th anniversary of the event, Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to multi-Olympic Games and World Championships medal-winning sprinter Merlene Ottey and Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Mike McCallum, who between them have won 20 Sportsman and Sportswoman titles.
"It's a long time coming," McCallum, now much more robust than in his fighting days, said.
"After so many years of working out and after now all that's over you guys still remember all I did. All the great moments, the winning and the defeats. It was just wonderful. Electrifying," he said.
An emotional Ottey thanked Jamaicans for being supportive throughout her career.
"I'm 100 per cent Jamaican, no matter what," said the evergreen star who became a citizen of Slovenia in 2002.
"When I win you celebrate with me... When I lose you cry tears of sorrow with me and I'm very glad... It has been an amazing feeling. When things were rough you stood by me," she said.
Ottey, who was a guest at the annual awards function in 2005 when she presented the Chairman's Award to Aleen Bailey, told the Sunday Observer she did not expect the reception she received on Friday.
"If there was any doubt, it's all gone. They all love me here so I'm very happy," she said.
Meanwhile, special awards were presented to Youth Olympic Games and World Junior Championships 100-metre winners Odean Skeen and Dexter Lee.
Team awards also went to the National Senior and Visually Impaired Cricket teams; Digicel Caribbean championship football team; the Under-16 team which won the Jean Pierre Caribbean Championships, and CAC badminton mixed team champions Alya Lewis and Garron Palmer.
Thirty-three category awards were also presented.