Remco Evenepoel, Lotte Kopecky and teammates on the red carpet in Antwerp Kinepolis: the most prestigious sports awards of 2022 will be awarded on Friday

Who is the Athlete of the Year candidate?

Voting has been over for a while now, and three of the featured nominees for each category are still vying for the honor. The names make it clear what an extravagant year the sport has had. For example, the delirium caused by Remco Evenepoel in Belgium: in September he became the first Belgian in over 40 years to win a Grand Tour with the Vuelta. Then he took the world title in Australia and the bronze in the World Cup time trial. In the spring he had already written a monument to his name with Liège-Bastogne-Liège and won the Clasica San Sebastian for the second time.

Or speed skater Bart Swings, who was crowned Olympic champion and therefore the most successful Olympian of the modern era, and also skated with five more medals at the World Games, the “Olympic Games for non-Olympic disciplines.” Wout van Aert also marked a farmer’s year: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Saxo Bank Classic, three stages in the Tour de France, green jersey in the Tour…

Nafeh Thiam. © BELGA

And with women?

In 2022, Nafeh Thiam was unbeatable in the heptathlon with gold at the World Cup in Eugene and the European Championships in Munich. Not only has Lotte Kopecky won the Vice World title on the road in Australia, but she has also won the Strade Bianche and Tour of Flanders titles. She was twice world champion and twice European champion in cycling. Snowboarder Loena Hendrickx became the first Belgian to win a world vice title, finishing eighth at the Winter Games.

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A number of athletes have to let go of a knot. For example, Friday Swings will be running the European Allround Championships in Norway, Thiam has South Africa as her winter base, Derwael is on a training stint in America with Belgium’s elite gymnasts…

How was last year?

Well, it was a sprint in millimeters he won against marathoner Bashir Abdi, but Woot van Aert succeeded himself as Sportsman of the Year in 2021. That was before that of Philippe Gilbert in 2009. Then Mathias Kaas came in third. In the year of the postponed Tokyo 2021 Games, Olympic champion Nina Derwell beat Olympic champion Navi Thiam in favor of then-retired athlete Emma Meissmann.

Nina Strix. © BELGA

Will the prizes still be awarded?

Many athletes are honored. In addition to the athlete and the athlete, the coach, the team, the promise and the Paralympic of 2022 will be elected. For example, the Football Unveiling Federation, the Belgian Indestructible Tornado (4x400m) and the World Cup tricolor cycling team are balanced by each other. Or vying for the honor are weightlifter Nina Strekes, tennis player Gilles Arnaud Bailly and cyclist Sean Oetdebroux. And will the trophy go to athletics coaches Roger Lispagnard, Jack Burley or national cycling coach Sven Vanthornhout? Table tennis player Laurens DeVos, jockey Michel Georges (dressage) and cyclist Ewood Froman compete for Paralympic Player of the Year.

Who votes again?

The oldest trophy is not the Athlete/Woman, which is the National Trophy for Athletic Merit, which can only be won once in any career. But the athletic man/woman, who can be won multiple times, is generally considered the most prestigious. The jury is composed of former winners and Belgian sports journalists.

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Why are year-end elections so unusual in early 2023?

Usually, the Sports Gala takes place at the end of December of the same year, and this version has been postponed to the beginning of 2023. The reason: the FIFA World Cup, which this time exceptionally lasted until December. For example, the Red Devils could be taken into account in the vote.

Is the party public?

No, the public is not allowed, only the athletes, their entourage, and their previous award recipients. There is also no live TV. The Sports Gala starts at 7.30pm and the last cup presentation is expected around 8.40pm. For live updates: www.gva.be

Amber Webster

 "Freelance zombie fanatic. Devoted web advocate. Analyst. Writer. Coffee fanatic. Travelaholic. Proud food aficionado."

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