National Sports Awards
Squash `Queen' Fernandes, `Little Kenyan' Forde prime candidates
Stabroek News
January 5, 2007

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Central American and Caribbean Games' ladies gold medallist and local squash `Queen' Nicolette Fernandes and Kenya-based track athlete Cleveland `The Little Kenyan' Forde are prime candidates for the 2006 Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year awards respectively.

In 2006, Fernandes earned the distinction of becoming the first Guyanese squash player to be adjudged the Most Improved Squash Player in the world when she defeated three other nominees to cart off the prestigious award at a gala ceremony in London last month. She defeated Samantha Teran, Kasey Brown and Manuela Manetta at the second annual World Squash Awards ceremony held at the RAC Club in Pall Mall. The star-studded event was held, for the second year, by Eventis Sports Marketing, owned by former World Number One Peter Nicol, a co-host at the event.

Fernandes is Guyana's first and only professional squash player and, since relocating to the UK, the 23 year-old's career has blossomed. Prior to becoming the runner-up in the ladies' singles at her first Pan American Games last year, Fernandes won a gold medal in the ladies' singles at the Central American and Caribbean Games and followed this up with a silver in the mixed doubles competition at the same games. She also won the ladies' singles title at the Southern Caribbean Games in Jamaica and she reached the second round of the World Open last month, defeating World Number 10 Jenny Duncalf of England 3-0. At the start of last year Fernandes was ranked 45 by the Women's International Squash Players' Association (WISPA) and ended it ranked 29. However, based on her performance at the World Open and other outstanding performances at WISPA recognised tournaments, she was elevated to number 28 in the January rankings. Fernandes contested nine WISPA recognised tournaments last year.

Forde also did Guyana proud last year when he won gold in the men's 5000-metre event and silver in the men's 1500-metre race at the South American Games hosted in Argentina. He was also victorious at the South American 10K race hosted locally. This was his first victory at this event in four tries. Forde also participated at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games but although he failed to medal, he recorded personal best times for the men's 5000-metre event.

The judges are expected to meet on January 26 to elect the winners of the awards. The panel is expected to include members of the media, sport administrators and persons from other sport-related organizations.