The best of 2017
The NATION will reveal its Sports Personality Of The Year for 2017 next Sunday. In the build-up to the announcement, SUNSPORT’S Haydn Gill highlights the achievements of who we consider to be the top four performers during the year. Readers can also go online and make their choice.
Not many people knew the name Amber Joseph before 2017. A lot still don’t know who she is.
Remember the name. Joseph is quickly becoming cycling’s wonder girl.
Still only 17, the British-based rider was the toast of the sport after securing four medals at two major meets a year after first bursting on the scene.
At the Junior Pan Am Championships in Mexico, she basked in the glory of winning the girls’ scratch race after earlier securing a silver medal in the gruelling six-event omnium, a similar position she finished in the same event the previous year.
When Joseph had the opportunity to ride before home fans for the first time in the Junior Caribbean Road Race Championships, she duly delivered with another pair of medals.
She secured gold in the road race, becoming only the second Barbadian to win the event and also claimed silver in the time trial to cap off an outstanding 2017.
The sports science student at Reading College also enjoyed success in England, winning the UK National Senior Women’s Omnium Series with four victories from the four events she entered.
• won a gold medal at the in the points race at the Junior Pan Am Championships
• won a gold medal in the road race at the Caribbean Road Race Championships
• won a silver medal in the omnium at the Junior Pan Am Championships
• won a silver medal in the time trial at Caribbean Road Race Championships
Darian King made his breakthrough in 2017. He finally made it onto tennis’ big stage.
He became the first Barbadian since Martin Blackman to qualify for the main draw of a Grand Slam. And boy did he capture the imagination of Barbadians in a gutsy performance at the US Open.
Matched against No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev, the 25-year-old King made his German opponent fight tooth and nail in a contest at the Arthur Ashe Stadium that was televised on ESPN. In the end, King lost 7-6(9), 7-5, 6-4 in a match that ended in wee hours of the morning.
Before King’s Grand Slam appearance, the Bajan ace had notched up a couple of significant achievements, including reaching a career high ranking of 106.
He also became a familiar face at ATP events, having reached the ATP Challenger final to go along with landmark victories at ATP 250 and ATP 1000 events.
It was a year in which King also toppled some big names, overcoming world no. 32 Bernard Tomic and No. 55 Nikoloz Basilashvili and taking a set against world No. 10 Gael Monfills.
When he returned to national duties, King was once more at the forefront of Barbados’ effort in the Davis Cup, spearheading the island to victories against Guatemala, Venezuela Paraguay to earn promotion to Group 1 of the Americas Zone for the second time.
• first Barbadian since Martin Blackman to qualify for the main draw of a Grand Slam with a US Open appearance – only Barbadian to represent the country at Grand Slam
• losing finalist in ATP Challenger in Stockholm
• achieved to a career high ranking of 106
• defeated world no. 32 Bernard Tomic at the Memphis Open – his first ATP 250 win
• Achieved first win at an ATP 1000 event, defeating world no. 55 Nikoloz Basilashvili at the BNP Paribas Open. He also took a set against world no. 10 Gael Monfills
• only Barbadian to have a victory at an ATP level – victories at successive ATP – Indian Wells and Miami Open
• guided Barbados to Davis Cup victories against Guatemala and Venezuela to earn promotion to Group 1 of the Americas Zone for the second time
• spearheaded Barbados’ first overseas Davis Cup victory in Group 2 against Paraguay
Meagan Best’s meteoric rise on the squash courts over the past two years has been simply phenomenal. And 2017 was even better than last year.
Still only 15, the St Michael School student had tongues wagging after another series of remarkable achievements on the way to claiming multiple triumphs at senior and junior levels – internationally, regionally and locally.
For the second straight year, Best won the Caribbean senior women’s title, an achievement unheard for a schoolgirl, brushing aside the challenge of former queen Karen Meakins in straight sets at the
Towards the end of the year, she etched her name in the history books, becoming the first Barbadian to win a title at the Junior US Open, clinching the Under-17 crown with a thrilling five triumph over Malak Ashraf Kamal of Eygpt a week after collecting the silver medal at the Junior Canadian Open.
Best was also no match again for Meakins at the local level, repeating as national women’s champion and prevailing in the Barbados Independence Invitational Games final against the 13-time national champion.
She was also good enough to advance to the quarter-finals of the Pan Am Championships in Argentina.
• retained the women’s title at the senior Caribbean Squash Championships
• became the first Barbadian to win a title at the Junior US Open, securing victory in the girls’ Under-17 final
• placed second in the Under-17 division of the Junior Canadian Open
• retained the women’s national senior title
• made the quarter-finals of the Pan Am Championships in Argentina
• won the women’s Barbados Independence Invitational Games final
• won the girls’ Under-19 title at the Barbados Junior Open
• won the girls’ Under-19 national title
Shai Hope came of age as a cricketer in 2017. Promise and potential were transformed into polished performances.
A batsman whose immense talent was not always reflected by his returns matured with telling effect to distinguish himself both in West Indies and Barbados colours.
Neat and attractive, Hope exuded confidence whenever he was in the middle, batting with aplomb throughout.
The 24-year-old attracted global headlines when he became the first man to score twin centuries in a Test at Headingley in a monumental effort that lifted West Indies to a first Test victory in England since 2000 when chasing a hardly straightforward target of 322 a few days after they suffered the embarrassment of a three-day defeat in the opening Test.
By then, Hope, now occupying a more familiar middle order position instead of the unusual opener’s role he was asked to fill at the start of his Test career, had already showed signs of making the transition with a vital 90 in a winning cause against Pakistan at Kensington Oval and made a similar score against Zimbabwe after the Headingley heroics.
Earlier in year, Hope also distinguished himself at regional level, both in the four-day and one-days formats and was especially dominant in the Super50 with back-to-back hundreds in the semi-finals and final that helped Barbados Pride to the title. The semi-final performance also included a record seven dismissals.
• scored two centuries in the same Test against England – first time the feat was achieved in a first-class match at Headingley – in a winning cause
• scored 90 against Pakistan at Kensington Oval in a winning cause
• scored 90 not out against Zimbabwe in a winning cause
• scored 377 runs in the Regional 4-Day Tournament at the average of average 75.40. Had a highest score of 215
• scored centuries in the Super50 semi-final and final (also effected seven dismissals in the semi-final) to help Barbados win the tournament. Was the third highest run-scorer in the tournament with 482 runs at an average 48.20.