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The Sport Media Pearl Awards gala: A beacon of hope, a celebration of passion


By Samindra Kunti, AIPS Young Reporter, Belgium
ABU DHABI, December 15, 2015 – On Wednesday the Sport Media Pearl Awards in Abu Dhabi came to a conclusion with the announcement of nine winners in their respective journalistic categories. Jimmy Magee received ‘A Life in Sports Award,’ ‘L’Equipe’ won the award for Best App and Hajo Seppelt was lauded for his investigate skills.

The show at the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Ballroom was a celebration of outstanding sports journalism and the first-ever Sport Media Pearl Awards, a collaboration between AIPS and Abu Dhabi Media as a platform for excellence and development of sports media and key industry practitioners.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the UAE’s Minister of Culture, Youth, and Social Development, addressed the audience and thanked the journalists for embracing sports.

Then AIPS president Gianni Merlo took center stage after his organization undertook a lengthy journey promoting the Sport Media Pearl Awards from the Turkmenistan International Sports Forum to the IAAF World Championship over sixteen different events.

“The Sport Media Pearl Awards are a beacon of hope when many have lost faith in the purity of sports,” said Merlo. “I am positive about the future of our profession despite the turmoil that has engulfed sports at all levels. We have to save sport and the values of sport. We have to fight against corruption, doping and match fixing.”

Jaap de Groot, the Telegraaf’s sports editor, awarded the first pearl of the evening to Anaman Fiifi from Ghana in the category Best Column with ‘How the Black Stars Stabbed the Nation in Cold Blood.’ Africa’s leading football journalist Mark Gleeson then proceeded to award a second pearl to Indian Express journalist Mihir Vasavda in the category Best Color with ‘Being poor in the richest sport.’

Fiifi gave a rousing speech, telling people no matter who you are or where you are from, you can make it.

“This event will not only inspire us but also create new friendships,” reacted Vasavda. “This is a celebration of all we have done. We often read each other work without knowing the face behind it.”

In photography, Ricardo Lopez won the category Athletic Prowess with ‘Women more than shadows’ and Robbert Wijtman prevailed in the category Emotion with ‘I just won.’

Dario Ricci claimed the Audio category with ‘Rocky Marciano,’ a story of boxing and emigration from Italy to USA. Donna de Varian awarded the category Journalist Weblog to Germany Stefan Nestler with ‘Too young for danger of death.’

“I dedicate this award to all my climbing friends who are living their passion, and my friends in Nepal who are really going through a hard time,” said Nestler.

Hajo Seppelt from Germany won the category Video Documentary with his much acclaimed documentary ‘Doping – Top secret: The shadowy world of athletics.’ Seppelt’s investigative work shook athletics to its core revealing an elaborate organized doping network in Russia. He thanked ARD, his invaluable sources, in particular the Stepanovs and paid an emotional tribute to his late mother.

Zhu He from China triumphed in the category Video Action.

Merlo closed a festive night of sports journalism by awarding the Best App in sports journalism to leading French sports daily L’equipe. Then Jimmy Magee received ‘A Life in Sports Award’ and Alessandro Del Piero awarded Hajo Seppelt yet again, this time with the special award for investigate sports journalism.

Paul Radley from The National won the last award of the evening in the category Sport for a Better World with his piece Street Kids Find Haven in Sport. The award aims to better the lives of those less fortunate or marginalized.

A full list of winners is available below:

WRITING – Best Column 

1ST PLACE: How the Black Stars stabbed the nation in cold blood
Fiifi Anaman | Ghana |

2ND  PLACE: The path out of the dark

Johannes Nedo | Germany | Tagesspiegel

3RD PLACE: What ’s left of Heysel thirty years after

Francesco Caremani | Italy | Il Foglio


WRITING –  Best Colour Piece

1ST PLACE: Being poor in the richest sport

Mihir Vasavda | India | The Indian Express

2ND PLACE: The tale of Alexis Sánchez

Martin Mazur | Argentina | FourFourTwo Magazine

3RD PLACE: The Football of 1943

Nikolai Dolgopolov | Russia | Russia Beyond the Headline

PHOTOGRAPHY – Athletic Prowess

1ST PLACE Women more than shadows
Ricardo Erick Lòpez Hevia | Cuba | Granma

2ND PLACE  The flying Russian girl
Patrick B. Kraemer | Switzerland | EPA – European Press Photo Agency

3RD PLACE  Relax in heaven
Daria Isaeva | Russia |


1ST PLACE  I just won!
Robbert Wijtman | Netherlands | CSC Sports Photography

2ND PLACE  Listen to me
Kai Schwoerer | Germany | Imago

3RD PLACE  Runners wave
Sascha Fromm | Germany | Thueringer Allgemeine

VIDEO – Documentary

1ST PLACE  Doping – Top secret: The shadowy world of athletics
Hajo Seppelt | Germany | ARD

2ND PLACE  Heysel
Emanuela Audisio | Italy | La Repubblica

3RD PLACE  Sunakali
Bhojraj Bhat | Nepal | Good Neighbors Nepal

VIDEO – Action Sequence:

1ST PLACE  Nina leaves with a smile

Zhu He | China | China Central Television


1ST PLACE  Rocky Marciano
Dario Ricci | Italy | Radio24

2ND PLACE  The Body Shot Boxing Podcast
Ronald McIntosh | United Kingdom |

3RD PLACE  A day in the life of the Giro
Matt Slater | United Kingdom | BBC World Service


1ST PLACE  Too young for danger of death
Stefan Nestler | Germany |

2ND PLACE  Justin Gatlin and a run for redemption
Alan Abrahamson | USA | 3 Wire Sports

3RD PLACE  Crash bang wallop as sports politics is turned on its head at SportAccord Convention
Nick Butler | United Kingdom |


Street kids find haven in sport

Radley Paul | United Kingdom | The National

A LIFE IN SPORT: Jimmy Magee

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING: Doping – Top secret: The shadowy world of athletics, Hajo Seppelt

BEST APP: L’Equipe

Credit: Samindra Kunti, AIPS Young Reporter, Belgium

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