Global awards recognize the world’s best sport storytellers at glittering ceremony in Abu Dhabi

Mohamed Ebraheem Al Mahmood: Hosting this monumental event confirms our stand on the development of media

Gianni Merlo: The awards prove that storytelling is key to successfully portraying the sport scene

 
Abu Dhabi, December 16, 2015: The elite in sport journalism were awarded for their work at a glittering ceremony in the UAE capital last night as the Sport Media Pearl Awards, attended by Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development, capped off a six-month journey to find the best in sport media.

The evening at the Etihad Towers complex in Abu Dhabi welcomed a host of notable faces from the world of sport as Italian footballer Alessandro Del Piero joined NBA star Yao Ming and Olympic Gold Medallist Jonathan Edwards.

The Awards are the first internationally to be dedicated to awarding excellence in the sport journalism industry and have seen a huge number of submitted entries.
Last night, the finalists, along with sport media professionals from around the world, convened at Etihad Towers as the final winners were announced at the event hosted by former Olympic athlete Jonathan Edwards. The winner of each category was awarded the prestigious Pearl trophy and US$10,000 in prize money, with the second and third placed finalists receiving US$5,000 each.

An expert executive committee led by the AIPS (International Sports Press Association) studied more than 700 international submissions across a range of categories from sport photography and weblog to writing and audio. Eighty-five submissions were then shortlisted at an event in Abu Dhabi in November.

The judging panel, led by AIPS President Gianni Merlo and consisting of 11 sport media professionals including Sport Media Pearl Awards Jury's Special Ambassador, Yao Ming, a former NBA All-Star, then began the process of choosing three finalists for each category.

H.E. Mohamed Ebraheem Al Mahmood, Chairman and Managing Director of Abu Dhabi Media, said: “This ceremony represents a great achievement for the finalists of the Sport Media Pearl Awards and also for Abu Dhabi as the emirate strives to develop the outstanding talent there is in sport storytelling.

“Abu Dhabi Media is a leading media organization and we continue to foster talent in all aspects of the evolving media landscape. To be associated with the very best in the world, and having them here in Abu Dhabi, will add momentum to the process of inspiring excellence.”

Managed by AIPS and hosted by Abu Dhabi Media, the Sport Media Pearl Awards have set out to celebrate the industry’s unsung heroes – the men and women who bring the drama of sporting achievement to life for a global audience. By showcasing the best in sport journalism, they aim to help foster a new generation of talent.

The Awards recently completed a worldwide promotional tour visiting 14 countries and 15 major sport events, including the UEFA Champions League Final in Berlin, the Special Olympics in Los Angeles and the European Games in Baku. At each port of call, sport journalists were encouraged to submit their work.

Gianni Merlo, President of AIPS, said: “The journey to the ceremony has been exhilarating. It has been an absolute privilege to study the incredible work of so many talented journalists in all forms of sport media. The Sport Media Pearl Awards proves that the passion to tell the story of sport is as strong as ever.”

Winners of a Pearl Trophy included Ricardo Erick (Granma, Cuba) and Robbert Wijtman (CSC Sports Photography, Netherlands) in the Photography category, Fiifi Anaman (allsports.com.gh, Ghana) and Mihir Vasavda (The Indian Express, India) for Writing, Hajo Seppelt (ARD, Germany) and Zhu He (Central Television, China) for video, Dario Ricci Radio24, Italy) for Audio and Stefan Nestler (dw.com, Germany) Journalistic Weblog.

As well as the main journalistic categories, there were several special categories, including Sport for a Better World, which focuses on coverage dedicated to a sporting initiative and aims to improve the lives of marginalized members of society. The winner of this category was Paul Radley of The National newspaper in the UAE with US$50,000 being awarded to Christina Noble, the non-profit organization that was the subject of Radley’s feature, “Street Kids Find Haven in Sport”.

Three further awards that were not open to submission – ‘A Life in Sport’, ‘Investigative Reporting’ and ‘Best App’ – were won by Jimmy Magee, Hajo Seppelt and L’Equipe respectively.

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