Athlete of the Year winners are javelin thrower, speed skater and WRC pair ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Magnus Kirt and Saskia Alusalu, winners of the individual athlete of the year 2018 categories.
Magnus Kirt and Saskia Alusalu, winners of the individual athlete of the year 2018 categories. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Javelin thrower Magnus Kirt, speed skater Saskia Alusalu and rally duo Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja have clinched Estonian Athlete of the Year 2018 titles in their respective categories.

The Stars of the Sports Year gala event in Tallinn on Thursday evening saw Kirt, 28, nominated male athlete of the year, with Alusalu, 24, picked as female athlete, with Tänak and Järveoja winning the team category.

Magnus Kirt won his first medal at a title event by taking the bronze at the European Championships this year. He also broke the Estonian record three times, setting 89.75 m the new benchmark in Morocco in July. Kirt won his European medal with a throw of 85.96 m.

Saskia Alusalu finished fourth in this year's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, making her the most successful Estonian competitor in the games, although she missed out on the medals. She took a strong lead in the mass start speed skating final in Korea, but faded towards the end of the race. Nonetheless, she is the first female speed skater ever to win Athlete of the Year (the 1964 winner Ants Antson won at a time when there were no separate gender categories).

Stiff competition from runners up

Ott Tänak and his co-driver Martin Järveoja (both 31) together won four WRC events this year, including in Finland, making them the team category winners on Thursday night. Tänak finished 3rd overall in the WRC drivers' championship and had a shot at the title right up until the final race in Australia.

Runners-up in the men's category were fencer Nikolai Novosjolov, decathlete Maicel Uibo and Ott Tänak again.

The other nominees for the women's title this year were tennis player Anett Kontaveit, fencer Katrina Lehis and freestyle skier Kelly Sildaru, and the team category runners up were the Estonian men's volleyball team, and dancing pair Konstantin Gorodilov and Dominika Bergmannova.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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