The awards will be held on Tuesday, March 7 next year with the nominations process now open but with a new twist for 2017. Unlike in previous years, the event’s Senior Achiever awards all feature an early shortlist of potential winners for the first time.
In the Sportsman of the Year category, Bairstow faces a challenge from six of the city’s Olympians from Rio 2016 in triathlon gold and silver medallists Alistair MBE and Jonny Brownlee, diving gold medallists Chris Mears and Jack Laugher, gymnastics bronze medallist Nile Wilson and rowing golden boy Paul Bennett.
Three Olympians will lock horns for the Sportswoman of the Year award as boxing gold medallist Nicola Adams MBE takes on cycling bronze ace Katy Marchant and triathlon star Vicky Holland.
Two Paralympic golden girls will also be locked in combat for the Disability Sportswoman of the Year award which will be between Hannah Cockroft MBE and Kadeena Cox.
Cycling stars Adam Duggleby and David Stone MBE and James Simpson are the three finalists for the male version of the award while diving takes on triathlon for the Coach Performance of the Year award in which Adrian Hinchliffe and Edwin Jongejans are up against Malcolm Brown MBE and Jack Maitland.
The public are invited to place their vote in each category – with one vote per person per category – via www.leedssportsawards.co.uk
The public vote will account for 50 per cent of the voting with a panel representing Sport Leeds determining the other 50 per cent of voting.
Any athlete can be nominated for the other awards which come under the branches of either ‘Young Achievers (under-18s)’ or ‘Special Contribution’.
In the former category, there are awards for Young Sportsperson, Young Disability Sportsperson and Young Club Team. There are six awards under the ‘Special Contribution’ category, for student sport, coach – participation, sports volunteer, outstanding service to sports, service to PE and school sport and club/team – performance.
The nominations and public voting process closes on December 14 with the judging panel set to meet on January 5 to select nomination finalists (Young Achievers and Special Contribution) and cast their votes in the Senior Achievers category. Finalists for the awards under the Young Achievers and Special Contribution banner are then announced on January 9, just under two months before the event itself.
The awards are now in their 13th year, with the 2016 extravaganza guaranteed to be the biggest and best yet.
Councillor James Lewis, deputy leader of Leeds City Council, said: “The First Direct Arena will provide a fitting setting for the Leeds Sports Awards, which is recognised as the major event in Leeds’ sporting calendar.
“Athletes from across the Leeds area have once again captured the imagination with excellent performances and inspirational efforts across all levels of sport on a local, national and international level.
“With the exceptional performance of our Olympians and Paralympians in Rio to reflect on, plus the city’s own ITU World Triathlon event taking place during the last year, the 2017 edition of the Leeds Sports Awards promises to be unmissable.”
First direct arena general manager Ben Williams added: “We are delighted to be staging such a prestigious event here at the First Direct Arena.
“We are looking forward to the arena providing the perfect backdrop for another wonderful night of celebration for our city.”