WRC rally pair Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja were named Athlete of the Year with freestyle skier Kelly Sildaru capturing her fifth Youth Athlete of the Year award, ERR's sports portal reported on Sunday.
Tänak and Järveoja were victorious in the first ever World Rally Championship event held in Estonia - WRC Rally Estonia. In addition, they came in second in two stages of the season and finished overall third for the season after an eventful final stage in Monza, Italy.
"Thank you to all of our supporters for this recognition. It has been an unreal year. It has been complicated overall, but it has all also affected sports. Everything that happened this year... It was hard to keep up. We must certainly be happy that motorsports were even organized. It was hard to develop a season feeling and we never knew what was to come and what was not. That is why we took it one competition at a time," Tänak said over a video message.
Järveoja added: "Thanks to everyone from me as well. It truly was an unreal year and an abnormal year. But most of all, it was an instructive year. Instructive from the position of never taking anything for granted, because our greatest value is health and we should keep ours. Stay healthy - a healthy body, a healthy mind!"
In addition to Tänak and Järveoja, freestyle skier Kelly Sildaru, tennis player Anett Kontaveit, figure skater Eva-Lotta Kiibus and powerboater Erik Aaslav-Kaasik also received nominations for the award.
Kelly Sildaru named Young Athlete of the Year
Youth Olympics gold medalist, 18-year-old Kelly Sildaru, was handed the Young Athlete of the Year award for the fifth time. Sildaru also won gold in two X-Games disciplines in 2020.
"I do not think it matters how good I am, but rather that I like doing what I do and I am happy with myself," Sildaru said when accepting the award.
"I certainly don't think of myself as a young athlete as much as I did perhaps two years ago. But I am still sincerely happy for this award and that an athlete my age is still considered a young athlete," Sildaru said.
Anna Levandi named Trainer of the Year
The award for Trainer of the Year went to former Olympic figure skater Anna Levandi, who directed 17-year old Eva-Lotta Kiibus to a seventh-place finish in the European championships, along with becoming the second Estonian female skater to hit the ice in the prestigious Grand Prix series.
"It was an interesting year. It started out great for me, as my dear Eva-Lotta Kiibus achieved seventh in the European championships, which was a great development and an achievement for us both," Anna Levandi said.
Levandi also trains her 15-year old son Arlet Levandi, who took gold in the youth Olympics and came in first in international competitions in Tallinn and Budapest in 2020.
"Athletes are given an award for what they have just done. Trainers are given one for their efforts over a longer period. The 20 years that I have worked as a trainer in Estonia, often for months without a day off... It is doing something with a purpose and wanting to get somewhere. I think that is why I was given this award. The most important thing is to love your work and then tremendous determination and fanaticism," Levandi said.
In addition, winter swimmer Merle Vantsi was named Veteran Athlete of the Year after becoming a six-time world champ, adding five silver medals to her collection in 2020. She also holds five world records.
The city of Rakvere were given a local municipality contest award, as the municipality is home to many athletes, sports clubs and sporting events.
The first inaugural Sports Object of the Year awards went to Türi sports hall and Vastseliina hockey rink.
The awards were named by a combination of public votes, sports journalists and sports organizations.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste