Ten athletes are nominated for the Sports Journalists Association’s Athlete of the Year 2023, Mbl.is reports. This year will see a new recipient of the award, continuing a tradition since 1956.
A tradition stretching back to 1956
Ten individuals are in contention for the Sports Journalists Association’s Athlete of the Year 2023 award, which will be announced for the 68th time on the evening of Thursday, January 4. This year, six women and four men have emerged as frontrunners in the voting, marking a significant change from last year, when eight men and three women were in the top eleven spots (with two tying for the 10th-11th position).
As noted by Mbl.is, the Sports Journalists Association has been selecting the Athlete of the Year consecutively since 1956. Olympian Vilhjálmur Einarsson was the first recipient of the award, which the winning athlete keeps for one year. Vilhjálmur notably retained it for the first three consecutive years and for five of the first six years of the award.
A new name etched on the award
As noted by Mbl.is, it is certain that a new name will be engraved on the trophy this year, as none of the top ten finalists have previously been named Athlete of the Year. Four of ten were, however, among the top seven in the 2022 voting: Glódís Perla Viggósdóttir finished second, Gísli Þorgeir Kristjánsson third, Anton Sveinn McKee fifth, and Elvar Már Friðriksson seventh. Handball player Ómar Ingi Magnússon, who was awarded the title over the past two years, has not been nominated this year.
The ten finalists, listed in alphabetical order, are:
Andrea Kolbeinsdóttir, a track and field athlete from ÍR. She became the Icelandic champion in seven running events, set two Icelandic records, and also won the national championship in cross-country skiing on the same day she broke a 29-year-old record in the indoor 5,000-metre run.
Anton Sveinn McKee, a swimmer from Sundfélag Hafnarfjarðar. He won silver in the 200 m breaststroke at the European Championships in a 25 m pool in Romania in December and finished seventh in the same event at the World Championships in a 50 m pool in Japan. Anton is currently second in the world rankings for the 200 m breaststroke in a 25 m pool.
Elvar Már Friðriksson, a basketball player with PAOK in Greece. He played major roles for his club teams in Lithuania and Greece during the year and was instrumental in the Icelandic national team, which was very close to qualifying for the World Cup for the first time. In November, Elvar became the first player in the history of the FIBA Champions League to achieve a triple-double in an away game.
Gísli Þorgeir Kristjánsson, a handball player with Magdeburg in Germany. He was named the best player in the European Champions League finals, securing the European championship title for his team. Gísli was also voted the best player in German handball for the 2022-2023 season.
Glódís Perla Viggósdóttir, a footballer with Bayern Munich in Germany. She was a key player for Bayern when the team won the German championship in the spring of 2023 and was considered one of the best players in the league. Glódís took over as captain for both Bayern and the Icelandic national team in 2023.
Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, a footballer playing for Burnley in England. He played a significant role in the club’s dominant win in the English Championship Division and is now competing in the English Premier League in the current season.
Snæfríður Sól Jórunnardóttir, a swimmer at Aalborg Svømmeklub in Denmark. She finished 7th in the 200 m freestyle at the European Championships in a 25 m pool in Romania and 14th in the same event at the World Championships in a 50 m pool in Japan. Snæfríður set 13 Icelandic records over the year.
Sóley Margrét Jónsdóttir, a powerlifter from Breiðablik. She became the European champion in the women’s +84 kg category in equipped powerlifting. Sóley also won silver in the same event at the World Championships in Lithuania, narrowly missing the world champion title.
Sveindís Jane Jónsdóttir, a footballer at Wolfsburg in Germany. She became the German Cup champion with her team and was the second Icelandic woman to play in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final, where Wolfsburg lost to Barcelona, playing the entire match.
Thelma Aðalsteinsdóttir, a gymnast from Gerpla. She became the Nordic champion on uneven bars, reached the vault finals at a World Cup event in Hungary, and was close to securing an Olympic spot at the World Championships. Thelma won the Icelandic championship in all-around and uneven bars and became the cup champion with Gerpla.
Six of these ten have previously been among the top finalists in the selection.