According to Secretary General of the NOC Siim Sukles, the competition for the title of the Athlete of the Year will be interesting and emotional: “The public voting adds a lot of excitement to the vote, because in addition to the results, sports fans always value the emotions that the athletes offer with their performances. I invite everyone to take part because every vote counts!”.
Kert Toobal, a member of the NOC Athletes Committee, who confirmed the list of candidates, added that this year Estonian athletes have been very successful internationally, and making the final selection was truly challenging.
“This year, Estonia has won a record number of medals, and of course all athletes who have brought honour and fame to Estonia deserve recognition. Fortunately, in February the NOC also holds the thanksgiving event for the medallists. However, not only the result often brings one the athlete of the year title, but also the popularity of a particular sport and the support of the people. I invite everyone to participate in the voting,” said Toobal.
Male Athlete of the Year, Female Athlete of the Year, Team of the Year, and the Coach of the Year will be determined by 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 based on the votes of sports journalists and sports organizations.
The winners will be announced at the "Stars of the Sports Year 2022" gala on December 30 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 91 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 2021, fencer Katrina Lehis was chosen the female athlete of the year, hurdler Rasmus Mägi was chosen the male athlete of the year, the epee women’s team that won Olympic gold was chosen the team of the year, and the epee women’s team coach Kaido Kaaberma was chosen the coach of the year. The title of young athlete of the year was awarded to swimmer Eneli Jefimova. 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.