Handball player Alexander Petersson was named Iceland’s Sportsperson of the Year by the Association of Sports Reporters at a festive ceremony, held by the association and the National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland at Grand Hotel in Reykjavík on Wednesday.
The handball team celebrating the bronze in January last year. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.
“I hadn’t considered that I might be chosen this time; I just thought it was good to be in the top ten. But when my name was read out loud a shiver went through me and I felt nervous. I was surprised. I’m very proud,” Petersson told Morgunbladid.
“This past year was the best year in my career so far. I was successful with the national team which earned the bronze at the European Championship in Austria and since then I have been successful after I was recruited by Füchse Berlin last summer,” Petersson said, adding that he considers the title to also be recognition of his teammates’ efforts.
According to Fréttabladid, Petersson earned the title for playing a big part in winning the bronze with the Icelandic national team in the European Championship in Austria last year.
He also placed second with Füchse Berlin in the German premiere league last year and helped knock the league’s top team out of the German handball cup.
Petersson, who comes from Latvia, is the first Iceland’s Sportsperson of the Year in the award’s 55-year-old history who is of a foreign background. He moved to Iceland 12 years ago and was granted Icelandic citizenship seven years ago.
“The Icelandic national anthem is beautiful but difficult,” he commented. “When I hear ‘Iceland thousand years’ I’m filled with pride.” He will play for the Icelandic national team in the upcoming World Championship in Sweden; the first game is scheduled for January 14.
Petersson received 307 points out of the possible 420. Footballer Gylfi Sigurdsson, who plays for Hoffenheim, placed second with 283 points and gymnast Íris Mist Magnúsdóttir from Gerpla came third with 171 points, which is the greatest achievement by a female gymnast in the voting so far, Fréttabladid reports.
A handballer was also named the Sportsperson of 2009. This year, 26 sportspeople were considered for the title.
Click here to see a picture of Petersson with the Sportsperson of the Year trophy.