The Sportsperson of the Year category at this year’s Ulster Tatler Awards is set to be one of the most keenly contested in years with five local stars shortlisted for a prize at the prestigious ceremony.
Amongst the five nominees are gymnast Rhys McClenaghan, rugby players Rory Best and Jacob Stockdale, champion boxer Carl Frampton and reigning World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea.
Newtownards teen Rhys McClenaghan, the youngest of the candidates, recently became the very first Irish gymnast to win a European medal, after he recorded a personal best to win gold in the pommel horse at the European Championships in Glasgow.
No stranger to sporting titles, Jonathan Rea has proved himself one of the most talented young racers in any class of competition today as reigning Superbike champion, with the Ballynure sportsman seeking to win the title for a record fourth consecutive year.
Another record-breaking hopeful is professional rugby player and six nations ace Jacob Stockdale from Newtownstewart, who has already made a mark with his career, and at the youthful age of twenty-two is a professional rugby union player for Ulster and for Ireland. He snared a record seven tries as he helped Ireland secure a Grand Slam for only the third time in their history and for the first time since 2009.
Rory Best OBE, originating from Craigavon, is another stand-out in the rugby field. As current captain of the Ireland team, hooker for Ulster Rugby and British and Irish Lions, he is one of the most capped players in Irish team history. He joined Stockdale to secure and captain Ireland’s victory in the Six Nations.
Last but by no means least is Carl Frampton MBE, the Belfast star and WBO interim featherweight titleholder who has 26 wins to only one loss under his belt.
The winners will be announced at the glamorous ceremony which will take place on Thursday at Belfast City Hall, presented by Pamela Ballantine.