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Over 500 Student Athletes Gather for celebration of Sports at The UWI

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Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. Monday, May 29, 2017. Friendly rivalry was the atmosphere at The UWI Cave Hill Campus on May 25, 2017 as hundreds of UWI students gathered for the kick-off of UWI Games 2017 and the presentation of the Vice-Chancellor’s Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year Awards. Students from all four campuses of The UWI sang loud chants, energising each other and seeking to gain a psychological edge on their competitors before the start of the joint ceremony.

Over the next eight days the teams—comprising over 500 student athletes—will compete for athletic glory in a biennial sporting tradition that is UWI Games. It is one of the few opportunities where the students get together as one University. Addressing the student athletes, Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles encouraged them to enjoy the spirited competition. “I urge that you compete with all of the traditional passions that have been identified with these games,” he said, “break records, enjoy yourselves but keep focused on your identity that you are first and foremost UWI students.” “All of us have to engage sports, not only as entertainment but as development, as nation-building and artistic creativity. These games are a vital part of our well-being as a university community.” 

Vice-Chancellor Beckles also described the Games as “a seminal moment” given that they are being held in the same year in which the new Faculty of Sport was given the nod by the University Council in April. He declared, “It is a celebration of all of you student athletes. The faculty is the way of showing the sports performance excellence of our people…and critically, The UWI showing that it has a role in sustaining the excellence of our civilisation.”

During the lively ceremony, the Vice-Chancellor’s Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year Awardees for 2017 were announced. Shimona Nelson, a netballer from Mona, is Sportswoman of the Year and Vikash Mohan, a cricketer from St. Augustine is Sportsman of the Year.

Commenting on the celebration of sport at the University, host Principal, Professor Eudine Barriteau stated, “Our students’ academic and physical training help them to become productive, well-rounded citizens. The determination and focus of these athletes can prove transformative in the growth and success of many Caribbean business enterprises and public sector institutions.” She urged regional business communities to pay keen attention to the rapid growth and diversification of sport, which adds significant value to Caribbean economies, adding, “so to corporate, governmental and civil society partners, we certainly welcome and thank you for your interest and partnership in these Games and in The UWI activity overall.”


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Sportswoman of the Year, Shimona Nelson 
Shimona Nelson is a first-year student who plays netball, basketball and throws javelin. She took up a scholarship in 2016 after being scouted by The UWI Mona Sports Programme and is currently pursuing a degree in Psychology. She also plays on the Jamaica National Netball team, known as the Sunshine Girls. She began playing netball at age fourteen and back then also earned a sports scholarship during high school. The six ft. four Nelson plays across inter-hall, inter-collegiate and national competitions and she is currently preparing to represent Jamaica at the World Youth Netball Championships to be held in Gaborne, Botswana in July 2017. 

Sportsman of the Year, Vikash Mohan 
Vikash Mohan is a final year Mechanical Engineering Student with a GPA above 3.0. Mohan is also currently the Captain of The UWI St Augustine Men’s Cricket Team and Vice-Captain of the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) Team. He has led all the youth teams in Trinidad and Tobago, from Under13 to Under19. His leadership skills and discipline in athletics enhance his academic ability.

About UWI Games
The UWI Games is a biennial UWI tradition which is staged at a different campus each time. This year (2017) approximately 400 athletes from across the Caribbean are taking part in the 10 sporting disciplines which include: basketball, football, tennis, swimming, table tennis, track and field, volleyball, cricket, netball and 6-a-side hockey. Competition in all sports will involve both male and female participants except for cricket and netball, which will be male only and female only respectively. 

About the Vice-Chancellor’s Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year Awards
The Vice-Chancellor’s Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year Awards were established in 2016, by Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, to honour top student-athletes for their outstanding performance in academics, athletics, service and leadership. Nominees are registered UWI students, recommended by their coaches and organisations for having excelled at the local and international level and having an acceptable grade point average. After an initial screening by campus selection committees, prospects from each campus are sent forward for further evaluation at the university level.