According to Secretary General of the NOC Siim Sukles,
despite difficult times, Estonian athletes have been internationally
successful. “I believe that the competition for the title of the Athlete of the
Year will be interesting and emotional, and it is difficult to predict certain
winners. I invite everyone to take part, since voting gives fans the
opportunity to share their emotions and appreciate the efforts of their heroes,”
Male Athlete of the Year, Female Athlete of the Year, Team of the Year and the and Coach of the Year 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 the "Stars of the Sports Year 2021" gala on December 29 at Alexela Concert Hall. The ceremony will be broadcasted on Kanal 2 and on Postimees portal.
Athletes of the year have been chosen in Estonia for 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. In 1933, this practice was officially taken over by the Tallinn Sports Press Club, and the best title was again awarded to track and field athlete Nikolai Küttis. 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 2020, rally drivers Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja were named the athletes of the year, Anna Levandi the coach of the year and Kelly Sildaru the young athlete 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.