Public voting for the Athlete of the Year 2020 title begins

On Tuesday, the Estonian Olympic Committee opened public voting for the title of Estonian Athlete of the Year. This year, which has been extraordinary, people can vote for their favourites in two categories, Athlete of the Year and Coach of the Year.

Votes can be given until 20 December (included) on the web page of the NOC

Siim Sukles, Secretary General of the NOC, noted this unusual year required unusual solutions. 

“There have not been many international competitions this year, so, in order to ensure healthy competition for the Athlete of the Year title and the ‘Kristjan’ statuette, we have decided to forgo the usual three categories, which are Male Athlete of the Year, Female Athlete of the Year and Team of the Year, and to  award the one and only title of Athlete of the Year to an individual or a team. This is a one-time change, which was approved by the NOC Athletes Commission. This is also a symbolic tribute to the history of the tradition: this year is the 90th anniversary of the first Athlete of the Year nomination, and back then, too, the title was granted to only one athlete. We hope 2021 will provide opportunities for a sufficient number of competitions so that Athletes of the Year can be chosen in several categories again. The Coach of the Year will be chosen as usual this time,” Sukles said.

Public voting means that anyone can vote for their favourite Athlete of the Year and Coach of the Year nominees on the web page Points can be given to three candidates in both categories. Public voting ends at 23.59 on 20 December. Last year, a hundred thousand unique voters participated in choosing Athletes of the Year.

The Athlete of the Year 2020 and Coach of the Year 2020 will be determined by means of summing up the results of the public voting and the votes of sports journalists and sports federations. If there is a tie, the title will be awarded to the athlete ranking first in the sports journalists’ voting. In addition, the title of the Young Athlete of the Year will be granted on the basis of the votes of sports journalists and sports organizations.

The winners will be announced at 19.30 on 3 January during the TV show ‘Stars of the Year in Sport 2020’, which will be broadcast on Kanal 2 TV channel and Postimees web portal.

Athletes of the year have been chosen in Estonia for nearly 90 years. For the first time, Athletes of the Year in Estonia were elected in 1931, when the first issue of ‘Eesti Spordileht’ (Estonian Sports Paper) asked its readers about their preferences concerning the best athletes of 1930. Back then, track and field athlete Elmar Rähn was named the Athlete of the Year. Since 1955, choosing the best ones has been an enduring tradition which was enhanced over time: separate male and female Athletes of the Year have been chosen since 1967, the category of the Team of the Year was added in 1969, and the Coach of the Year title has been awarded since 1988.

In 2019, javelin thrower Magnus Kirt was the Male Athlete of the Year, freestyle skier Kelly Sildaru became the Female Athlete of the year, the WRC Rally tandem of Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja was chosen as the Team of the Year, and Indrek Tustit and Marek Vister, who train Magnus Kirt, shared the title of the Coach of the Year. The athlete to have received the title the greatest number of times throughout history is Erika Salumäe, who was granted the award of the Athlete of the Year nine times between 1983 and 1996.

The competition for the Athlete of the Year 2020 is being organized by the Estonian Olympic Committee.