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Antigua rules the waves: water sport athletes take home top prize at Sports Awards

Emily Gaillard and Tiger Tyson

It has been a long time in coming. The last time a sailor in the “sailing Mecca” of Antigua won the sportsman of the year award was Olympian Karl James in 2001. Now kite surfer Olympian Tiger Tyson has won the prestigious award.

Also of significance are the nominations of Junella King and Emily Gaillard, senior and junior contenders who have both secured coveted positions among the top three finalists in their respective categories. And let us not forget Patrick Greensmith, the junior nominee, whose efforts have not gone unnoticed.

The annual sports awards ceremony in Antigua celebrates the outstanding achievements of athletes across various disciplines. It recognises sportsmen who have demonstrated exceptional skill, dedication and sportsmanship throughout the year. From cricket to athletics, swimming to football, the awards honour those who have brought glory to Antigua through their remarkable performances on both national and international stages. Athletes, coaches and supporters come together to applaud the hard work and passion that drive excellence in sports.

In a time when headlines are often dominated by the harrowing tales of youth violence, these young sailors stand out, carving a path of excellence, representing the best of Antigua to the world. The absence of Junella and Tiger from the awards ceremony highlights even more their commitment and hard work, each representing Antigua; Tiger facing formidable competition at the European Championship in Spain, Junella facing the Atlantic Ocean in The Maiden on the last leg of the Ocean Globe. 

16-year-old Emily Gaillard has raced into Antigua’s sailing records, after only 6 years.  Inspired to take to the water when the 2019 Optimist World Championship was held in Antigua, she made history in 2023 as the youngest person ever on record to compete in the Caribbean RORC 600. 

Naturally, she now represents Antigua in international sailing events. The award is a testament to her dedication and commitment, as well as her remarkable sailing skills.

I was very happy to receive my award and also pleased with the fact that I was a finalist for the Top Junior Sportswoman of the year. sailor, Emily Gaillard

The award showcases the dedication for the sport along with the work put in to achieve it. She continued,  “[I hope] This showcases to young Antigua sailors that as long as you put in the hours to create your achievements, you will later on be recognised and awarded for your acts. Not … to work to receive an award but to gain the skills which then follow recognition. Maybe some young sailors can use it as a form of motivation as well!” This is an inspiring young lady to watch!

Olympian and coach Karl James said “all the sailors did themselves and the sport of Sailing in Antigua proud.”

Much like the ABYSO and the Kanneh-Mason concert earlier in March, these young Antiguans exemplify the true potential of the nation’s youth. Their courage, determination and skill showcase a promising future where the sea becomes a pathway to greatness. It highlights Antigua’s diverse opportunities for involvement in sports, arts, mentorship programs, and community initiatives to channel the energy of young persons into something for which to develop a passion.

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