At its meeting today, 8 February, the Estonian government decided to confirm the proposal of the Estonian Sports Council and present the National Lifetime Achievement Awards for Sports.
The lifetime achievement award is presented to people whose long-term contribution to Estonian sport has been highly valued by the public and whose achievement over the years have set an example for younger generations. Two lifetime achievement awards worth €40,000 each are presented every year.
Swimmer, Olympic winner and sports figure Ivar Stukolkin was nominated for a lifetime achievement award in sport by the Estonian Swimming Federation. A former top swimmer Ivar Stukolkin’s many great achievements include winning the gold medal in the 4x200 metre event as part of the Soviet team, and the bronze medal in the 400 metres freestyle at the Moscow Olympics in 1980. At the World Championships in 1982, he won the silver medal in the 4x200 metres. Stukolkin has repeatedly been the Estonian champion and record holder, and been Estonia’s best swimmer between 1979 and 1984. After ending his athletic career, Ivar Stukolkin has contributed to the development of Estonian sport, worked as a coach and sports manager, as well as participated in the work of sports organisations. He has been the president of the Estonian Olympians Association and an honorary member of the Kalev Sports Association and the Estonian Olympic Committee.
Tõnu Pääsuke, a meritorious biathlon coach and a long-time developer of sport, was nominated for a lifetime achievement award by the Estonian Biathlon Federation. Tõnu Pääsuke is one of the most outstanding coaches in the history of the biathlon in Estonia, and a promoter of the sport. His almost 50-year-long coaching career working with athletes of various ages at various levels has brought Estonia many championship medals. He has developed an entire biathlon school and coached hundreds of successors from different generations, who - after ending their athletic careers - have been active people living healthy lifestyles. Pääsuke’s best-known students are Kaija Parve, a 7-time world champion biathlete, and Even Tudeberg, a former Junior World Champion. Since 2008, Tõnu Pääsuke has been the head coach of the Estonian junior biathlon team. He previously received an Order of Merit from the Estonian Olympic Committee.
The selection of the annual awards is based on results from the past calendar year, successful coaching work, performance in sports activities, and a contribution to the promotion of sport, 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:
- Heiki Nabi – wrestler, won the silver medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2017 World Championships in the under 130 kg weight category;
- Nikolai Novosjolov – fencer, won a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships and a bronze medal at the European Championships; achieved third place in the World Cup series;
- Natalja Kotova – fencing coach, coach of fencer Julia Beljajeva, who was very successful in 2017. Julia Beljajeva was named Estonia’s best female athlete in 2017; she won the gold medal at the World Fencing Championships as a member of the épée team. Individually Beljajeva won bronze medals at the World Championships and European Championships, achieved third place in the World Cup series, and is currently ranked first in the world;
- The épée team comprised of Irina Embrich, Julia Beljajeva, Erika Kirpu and Kristina Kuusk, who won the gold medal at the 2017 World Fencing Championships;
- Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja, who won two rounds of the 2017 World Rally Championship, and achieved third place in the overall standings – a unique achievement in Estonian autosport;
- Mario and Risto Kalmre – the founders and main organisers of Simple Session. This is one of the world’s most famous and anticipated extreme sports events for top skateboarders and BMX riders. In 2017, a large-scale Simple Session was also held in Riga.
The national lifetime achievement awards and annual awards for sports will be formally presented just prior to the centenary of the Republic of Estonia, on 20 February at 14:00 in the Läänemaa Secondary School in the city of Haapsalu, together with the presentation of the national culture awards, science awards and the Ferdinand Johann Wiedemann Language Prize.