Amidst a dazzling line up of nominees Rachael Blackmore was deemed to have shone brightest in 2021, collecting the RTÉ Sportsperson of the Year accolade last night.
The Tipperary woman edged the accolade over Paralympic champion swimmer Ellen Keane, Olympic boxing gold medallist Kellie Harrington, golfer Leona Maguire, Limerick hurler Cian Lynch, Paralympic gold medallist Jason Smyth, LGFA player of the year Vikki Wall and the ever consistent lightweight boxing champion Katie Taylor.
The first jockey to win the award in eight years, she accomplished a slew of success in the past year, becoming the first woman to be bestowed the title of The Cheltenham Festival’s leading jockey after she rode six winners (including victory in the Champion Hurdle) and also triumphed in the Grand National back in April.
The 32 year old remarked on her collection of the award that it was an “phenomenal” achievement and that she was “just a bit overwhelmed.”
“When you see the list of names who have won this award, to be even nominated is fantastic” the Tipperary woman said.
“You’d be blown away by the year of sport that was and to be recognised like this is phenomenal. It’s been an incredible year for women in sport.
“I think that’s the same across the board with all of us. We’re in our sporting bubble and we’re doing our job… As athletes and as sportspeople we’re just trying to do the best we can in what we’re good at. But to be picking up awards like this is just incredible.”
Paralympic cycling duo Katie George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal picked up a distinction too, their double road race golds and 3,000m individual pursuit silver medals enough to clinch them the title of the RTÉ Sport Team of the Year.
The 2021 @RTEsport team of the year winners are Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal🏅— Her Sport (@HerSportDotIE) December 18, 2021
We interviewed the triple Paralympic champions during the summer where their unbreakable bond was on show🚲
Check it out👇 @KatieGDunlevy @evemccrystal @acunnane10https://t.co/FqpUO31si1
19 year old Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu obtained the Young Sportsperson of the Year award over five women in the category; cricket player Amy Hunter, gaelic footballer Emma Duggan, cyclist Lara Gillespie, swimmer Nicole Turner and sprinter Rhasidat Adeleke, while Dominic Casey, Ireland’s lightweight rowing head coach won a title as he nabbed the Manager of the Year.
Outgoing Sport Ireland CEO, former cross country and Olympic hero John Treacy was alsoinducted into the hall of fame.