At its meeting today, on February 9th, the government decided to confirm the proposal of the Estonian Sports Council and present National Lifetime Achievement Awards for Sports to Rein Haljand, a swimming coach, sports educator and scientist, as well as promoter of the Olympic movement, and to Rein Kirsipuu, a cyclist and cycling coach, as well as promoter of cycling.
The lifetime achievement award is presented to people whose long-term contribution to Estonian sports has been highly valued by the public and whose years of achievement have set an example for younger generations. Two lifetime achievement worth €40,000 each are presented each year.
The swimmer, sports educator and scientist as well as sports figure Rein Haljand was nominated for the lifetime achievement award by the Estonian Swimming Federation. Haljand is a six-time Estonian swimming champion and a three-time holder of the Estonian record in swimming relays. For the last fifty years, he has been a member of the Faculty of Physical Education at Tallinn University, as well as the department head and dean. Since 2007, he has been Professor of Kinesiology at Tallinn University, and since 2012, Professor Emeritus. During his academic career, Rein Haljand has participated in more than 2,000 physical education teaching programmes; he has organised training for physical education teachers and swimming coaches. For decades, Haljand has helped all of Estonia’s top swimmers improve their technique, based on the underwater video analysis of their swimming styles. He is the author of an internationally recognised system for analysing and testing sports techniques. For decades, Haljand has been the main organiser of seminars for European swimming coaches and given lectures abroad. Among other things, he has been a member of the board of the Estonian Swimming Federation and its president, the Secretary General of the Estonian Olympic Committee and a member of the professional commission for coaches. He is also an international-class sports referee and participated in many swimming title competitions.
Former cyclist, merited cycling coach and sports leader Rein Kirsipuu was nominated for the lifetime achievement award by the Estonian Cyclists’ Union and the Tartu City Government. Kirsipuu’s cycling career started in 1950 at the Spartak Sports Union. He soon became Estonian champion and won a silver medal at the Soviet Union’s Sports Union Competition. After ending his athletic career, Kirsipuu continued working as a cycling coach from 1972 to 1988, and again in 1993, and he was the head coach of the Estonian team. Kirsipuu’s work as a coach has been recognised in Estonia, as well as with the honorary title of Merited Coach of the Soviet Union. His most famous student is Aavo Pikkuus, a champion cyclist, Olympic winner (Montreal 1972), world champion and repeated winner of the Peace Race. Rein Kirsipuu has been the Chairman of the Coaches’ Council of the Cycling Federation, a member of the board and vice-president of the Estonian Cyclists’ Union. And he has worked to ensure the sustainable success and long-term traditions of cycling.
The selection of the annual awards is based on results from the past calendar year, successful coaching work, the organisation of productive sports activities, and a contribution to the promotion of sports, sports education or sports science. The amount of each annual award is €9,600 and six awards are presented each year.
The winners of the annual sports awards are:
· athlete Ksenja Balta – placed 4th at the European Championships, 6th at the Olympic Games in the long jump. Estonia’s best female athlete and best female track and field athlete in 2016. Nominated by the Estonian Athletic Association;
· freestyle skier Kelly Sildaru – Estonia’s best young athlete in 2016. Placed first at the X Games and Dew Tour extreme sports competitions; and first place in the Women's AFP World Rankings for Slopestyle. Nominated by the Estonian Ski Association;
· athlete Rasmus Mägi – placed 6th at the Olympic Games in the 400-metre hurdles. Estonia’s best male athlete in 2016. Nominated by the Estonian Athletic Association and the University of Tartu;
· volleyball player Kert Toobal – as the setter and captain of the Estonian Men’s Volleyball Team has made a significant contribution to winning the European League title and ensuring passage to the finals of the European Championships. Nominated by the Estonian Volleyball Federation;
· rowing coach Matti Killing – coach of the Estonian men’s quadruple sculls team that won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympic Games and the gold medal at the European Championships. Estonia’s best coach in 2016. Nominated by the Estonian Rowing Association;
· rowers Andrei Jämsä, Allar Raja, Tõnu Endrekson and Kaspar Taimsoo – members of the Estonian men’s quadruple sculls team; placed third at the Olympic Games and won the European Championships. Estonia’s best team in 2016. Nominated by the Estonian Rowing Association.
The presentation of the national sports awards will take place on February 24th at 1:30 p.m. in the Academy of Sciences hall on Toompea Hill together with the presentation of the national awards for culture, science awards and the Ferdinand Johann Wiedemann Language Prize.