Joanne Cantwell and Darragh Maloney will present the RTÉ Sport Awards 2021 on Saturday 18 December on RTÉ One when the stars of a remarkable year of Irish sporting achievements at home and abroad will be honoured. This year’s nominees for the RTÉ Sport Sportsperson of the Year are listed below featuring an unprecedented six female sportspeople out of the eight nominees.
NOMINEES FOR RTÉ SPORT SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR 2021
Limerick hurler Cian Lynch again brought sublime skill and scores to this year’s Championship. The Patrickswell midfielder hit six points as limerick defeated Cork in the Croke Park decider, his dominant display deservedly earning him the man-of-the-match award.
Para-Swimmer Ellen Keane won her first gold at her fourth Paralympics Games, claiming Ireland’s first medal in Tokyo. The 26-year-old took gold in the SB8 100m breaststroke with the best performance of her life.
Ireland’s Jason Smyth added to his outstanding record at Paralympic Games, as he won gold for the sixth time after a dramatic T13 100m final. Competing at his fourth Games, after previous successes at Beijing, London and Rio, the Derry native edged the victory in a photo finish by just 0.01 seconds to cement his place amongst the Paralympic greats.
Undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor twice this year successfully defended her titles. Firstly, against long-time rival Natasha Jonas with a hard-fought points victory in Manchester, before seeing off American Jennifer Han with ease in Leeds. The Bray boxer has one more fight in 2021 before a potential super-fight with Amanda Serrano next spring.
Portland Row boxer Kellie Harrington etched her name into the history books by winning gold in the lightweight boxing final in Tokyo. She delivered an exhibition of intelligent fighting to claim her unanimous decision victory over reigning world champion Beatriz Ferreira of Brazil on the final day of the Games.
Solheim Cup debutant Leona Maguire had a tournament to remember as Europe claimed a famous victory on US soil in Toledo. The Cavan women’s singles victory over Jennifer Kupcho gave her four-and-a-half points from five matches, a record for a rookie on either side, as Europe claimed a hard-fought 15-13 victory.
National Hunt jockey Rachael Blackmore twice made history this year. Firstly, with a stunning week at the Cheltenham Festival, where she was the first ever female to be crowned ‘Top Jockey’ with six wins, including in the Champion Hurdle with Honeysuckle. She then followed that up at Aintree, as she became the first female jockey to win the Randox Grand National with Minella Times.
Meath’s Vikki Wall was named as the 2021 Senior Players’ Player of the Year after a superb attacking display for the Royal County. As her team claimed a first ever All-Ireland Senior title, the Dunboyne star scored 1-6 during the Championship, and produced a ‘Player of the Match’ performance in their famous final victory over Dublin.
The nominees for RTÉ Sport Young Sportsperson of the Year, RTÉ Sport Manager of the Year and RTÉ Sport Team of the Year will be announced in the coming days.
Criteria for nominees:
- The list should reflect Irish sporting achievements on the national and/or international stage.
- Any Sportsperson who has won a medal or Championship at an international level should be considered. Where multiple sportspeople from the same field or at the same championships both win medals, the one with the higher value medal CAN take precedence over the others (this helps to keep the list varied and reflective of the breadth of Irish sport).
- A Sportsperson who has been outstanding within a team that has won something or a team that has significantly over-achieved should be considered.
- The impact the achievement has on the nation should also be brought into consideration.