It came as no surprise to the jam-packed audience when Shakib Al Hasan was declared the Sportsperson of the Year during the Grameenphone-Prothom Alo Sports Awards ceremony yesterday.
The smiling boy from Magura played all-rounder to the core last year which paved the way for him to snatch the number one spot in the ICC ranking and as a result, it was obvious that he got the honour as the country's leading cellular phone operator and the leading daily awarded the top sportspersons of the year 2008 at a local hotel.
In the first quarter of the year, Shakib scored heavily with the bat and continued his form throughout the year but what made him special was his outstanding performance with his left-arm spin to prove his coach Jamie Siddons, who declared him as a main spinner in the team, right.
Shakib brought the Tigers almost close to a Test victory against major Test nation when he destroyed New Zealand with seven for 36 in Chittagong.
For the jury there was actually none better than Shakib to hand the award of the Sportsperson of the Year which also confirmed that cricketers are still dominating this award.
"I am honoured. It is a very important award. It will encourage me to do much better performance," said Shakib, who also sang a song with few of his teammates at the function.
Like the previous years, the event brought the whole sporting arena under one roof where past and current sporting icons got together in the cordial ceremony, hosted by Prothom Alo's Sports Editor Utpal Shuvro with his characteristic style where he first declared the winner of the Lifetime Achievement award.
The award went to Bashir Ahmed who represented East Pakistan football and hockey team as well as being involved in other sports like athletics.... a multi-skilled sportsman.
An emotion-choked Bashir told about his early life struggle on way to become a successful sportsman which touched the audience.
It was a notable year for women's cricketers in the country as they got the reward when Salma Khatun clinched the leading Female Sportsperson award while two runners-up awards went to Fahima Akhter Moyna (weightlifting) and Asif Hossain Khan (shooting).
Minhazuddin Ahmed Sagar (chess) received the Emerging Sportsman award.
The winners of Lifetime Achievement and Sportsperson of the Year each received Tk 1 lakh and the other winners got Tk 50,000 each.
Prothom Alo Editor Matiur Rahman and Grameenphone CEO Oddvar Hesjedal also spoke on the occasion.