In the last days of 2021, the best Lithuanian athletes were honoured in Vilnius. After a one-year break, the prestigious Lithuanian Sports Awards returned to the Litexpo Exhibition Centre, with hundreds of guests gathering to congratulate Olympic and Paralympic athletes and their coaches.
Organised by the National Olympic Committee of Lithuania (NOCL), the Lithuanian Paralympic Committee (LPC) and the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport (MESS), the event has already become a beautiful tradition, with Lithuania’s best athletes being recognised every year since 1994. On the evening of 21 December, the red carpet ushered in a crowd of sports enthusiasts dressed to the nines, including athletes, team members, representatives of the world of sports, culture and education, politicians, diplomats and many others.
“This celebration is an opportunity to show appreciation for our athletes, coaches, doctors and other specialists for their dedicated and hard work, thanks to which Lithuania’s name resonates worldwide. The past year was not an easy one for the sports community, so I want to wish us all unity, consideration, and even closer work for the sake of sport and our athletes,” said Daina Gudzinevičiūtė, Olympic champion and President of the NOCL.
Both Olympic and Paralympic athletes were nominated for six awards.
“I am delighted that this year, we are recognising representatives of Olympic and Paralympic sports together. This is not only a symbol of the years of cooperation with the Lithuanian Paralympic Committee, but also a symbol of equality in sports,” said Ms Gudzinevičiūtė.
LPC President Mindaugas Bilius was also pleased with the unity in recognising the athletes. According to Mr Bilius, the fact that both Olympians and Paralympians are being given attention on the same stage shows that society is becoming more and more mature. Minister of Education, Science and Sport Jurgita Šiugždinienė also congratulated the winners.
The winners of the Lithuanian Sports Awards for Olympic sports were selected by the Lithuanian Sports Awards Council, which was made up of representatives of the MESS, the NOCL, the LPC, the Lithuanian Sports Journalists’ Association, the Association of Lithuanian Municipal Sports Department Heads, and the National Association of Athletes. The nominees were selected based on the results they achieved at the 2021 Olympic Games (or categories).
Fans were also invited to vote, and were able to express their opinion on the LTOK.lt portal until 14 December. The public vote determined 25 per cent of the outcome in selecting the winners.
Athletes were evaluated in several different categories, and representatives of Olympic sports vied for the Athlete of the Year awards, while Paralympians were honoured separately. During the awards, Olympians and Paralympians were awarded in the following categories: Male Athlete of the Year, Female Athlete of the Year, Team of the Year, Coach of the Year, Breakthrough of the Year.
Team of the Year: Rowers Milda Valčiukaitė and Donata Karalienė.
Breakthrough of the Year: Lithuanian Rugby Sevens Team.
Male Athlete of the Year: Rower Mindaugas Griškonis.
Female Athlete of the Year: Modern pentathlete Laura Asadauskaitė-Zadneprovskienė.
Coach of the Year: Andrejus Zadneprovskis, who coached Laura Asadauskaitė-Zadneprovskienė to 2nd place in the modern pentathlon at the Tokyo Olympics.
Male Athlete of the Year: Swimmer Edgaras Matakas.
Female Athlete of the Year: Discus thrower Oksana Dobrovolskaya.
Team of the Year: Lithuania men’s national goalball team.
Coach of the Year: Swimming coach Ramūnas Leonas.
Breakthrough of the Year: Judo wrestler Osvaldas Bareikis.
At the awards ceremony, Juozas Skernevičius – a renowned educator, doctor of biomedical sciences, habilitated doctor of social sciences, sports scientist, sports master, coach and professor – was also honoured and given the Life Achievement Award.
Between awards, the guests were entertained by some of the country’s best artists, including performers Vidas Bareikis, Inga Jankauskaitė, Monika Pundziūtė-Monique, Gabrielė Vilkickytė, Justinas Jarutis and Jessica Shy, and a breath-taking performance by Lithuania’s best break-dancer, Dominika Banevič–Bgirl Nicka.
Šventinį renginį buvo galima pamatyti ir televizijos ekranuose – Lietuvos sporto apdovanojimus gruodžio 23 d., nuo 19:30 val. transliavo TV3 televizija.