Standout stars from a memorable year

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After two weeks of polling, the votes have been counted with Barcelona, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Al Ahli, Yousif Mirza and Betlhem Belayneh your leading lights from a brilliant 12 months.

– INTERVIEW: Stan Wawrinka holds high hopes as he begins 2016 season

– LA LIGA: Ten La Liga players who may be on the move this winter

– #360FIT: Dubai Roadsters to Velo Vixens – Cycling clubs to join in Dubai

International Team of the Year – BARCELONA

Such is the frequency at which they win trophies it’s sometimes difficult to gauge just how successful this Barcelona team are. But with a domestic treble plus European Super Cup and Club World Cup glory, nobody could touch them on the football pitch in 2015. What’s more is that they play each game with a smile on their face and with the sort of vibrant, attacking football we’d all like our respective teams to play… albeit in our wildest dreams.

International Sportsman of the Year – NOVAK DJOKOVIC
Another iconic year for the Serb who enjoyed his most prolific and successful 12 months on the ATP Tour: three grand slam titles from four final reached – only the third man after Roger Federer and Rod Laver to do so – six Masters championships and more than $21m in prizemoney. He suffered just six defeats all year and was a French Open crown short of what surely would have been considered a perfect season.

International Sportswoman of the Year – SERENA WILLIAMS
We’re witnessing history seemingly every time Serena Williams steps onto the court and the American continues to bring it every single tournament, even at the age of 34 – when most of her contemporaries would be considering retirement. Disappointment came from her early exit at the US Open, denying her the calendar grand slam but the omens are there that if she can stay fit, 2016 promises to be just as successful for her.

Regional Team of the Year – AL AHLI
Having surrendered their AGL crown, Al Ahli found salvation in the AFC Champions League with a stunning run all the way to the final. They won a thriller on away goals against domestic rivals Al Ain in the last 16, cruised past Naft Tehran in the quarters before Kwon Kyung-won's last-gasp strike knocked out Al Hilal in the semis. There was no shame in a 1-0 aggregate loss to Guangzhou Evergrande in the final and 10 AGL wins from 12 have capped a fine 12 months.

Regional Sportsman of the Year – YOUSIF MIRZA
Yousif Mirza is at the fore of a cycling boom in the UAE and he has triumphed in the face of adversity this year. Fresh from booking a spot in the road race at the Rio Olympics with silver at the Asian Championships he helped Al Nasr win the President's Cup only to be injured in a motorcycle accident the very next day. But he returned in fine fashion in October, winning a silver medal in the Points race at the ACC Track Asia Cup in Bangkok.

Regional Sportswoman of the Year – BETHLEHEM BELAYNEH
In June middle-distance runner Betlhem Belayneh overcame some poor form to successfully defend her Asian Athletics Championships 1500m title in Wuhan, China. Not content with just one gold medal, Betty added the 5000m title as well. The Ethiopian-born runner has twice this year – in Stockholm and Heusden-Zolder – run below 4:26 minutes, the Olympic qualifying time for the 1500m and has her sights firmly set on winning a place at the Rio Olympics in 2016.


Betlhem Belayneh.

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#360awards: VOTE for your stars of 2015

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Vote for your choices below.

Have your say as to who should be crowned Sport360's star sportsmen, sportswomen and teams of 2015 from our shortlist of nominees, using #360awards on social media or by commenting below. 

International Sportsman of the Year – READ about each nominee

International Sportswoman of the Year – READ about each nominee

International Team of the Year – READ about each nominee

Regional Sportsman of the Year – READ about each nominee

Regional Sportswoman of the Year – READ about each nominee

Regional Team of the Year – READ about each nominee

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Els Club is the big winner in third edition of MEGAs

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Packed leaderboard: The region’s finest in the golf industry came together.

The Els Club scooped four awards at a star-studded third edition of Sport360’s Middle East Golf Awards (MEGAs) on Thursday night in Dubai.

The golfing industry in the Middle East once again gathered in one place for a special evening as many of the most iconic golf course facilities and tournaments in the region were put under the microscope by the public vote and a panel of experts working across the sport.

A full house of more than 300 gathered for an unforgettable evening hosted at the One & Only Royal Mirage Amphitheatre.

– VOTE: International Sportswoman of 2015
– VOTE: International Team of 2015

– VOTE: Regional Sportswoman of 2015

Prominent among those who were present was Peter Dawson, the former chief executive of the R&A who has been recently appointed by the Government of Dubai as consultant to explore opportunities that will continue to build on the city’s reputation as one of the world’s leading golf destinations.

And it was The Els Club, which is located in the heart of  Dubai Sports City and is affiliated with South African Ernie Els, that earned the most honours.

The Els Club claimed the Golf Maintenance Team of the Year, Golf CSR Initiative of the Year (for Els for Autism tournament), the Best F&B Outlet of the Year (The Big Easy Bar and Grill) and its Butch Harmon School of Golf took home the Academy of the Year prize.

Els Club General Manager Chris Brown said: “We are delighted and feel honoured to win four awards, it is great motivation for us going forward. I think it is testament to the staff and our desire to be the best in the region.

“The Big Easy has become a fantastic place to go for a meal with family and friends, it’s formal, it’s relaxed and embodies everything that the Els club is – high quality and family friendly.

“And to win the Butch Harm​o​n Award and take top spot there is a great feather in our cap given given the competition out there, and then to be awarded the maintenance prize is down to our team golf ethos which is second to none.”

Callum Nicoll, who worked with The Els Club before moving recently to another Troon Golf-managed facility, the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, said: “I think everybody’s absolutely delighted. There’s some very good categories and there’s lots of amazing golf courses so we’re obviously very happy to have come out on top in several areas.”

John Howells, Teaching Professional at the Dutch Harmon School of Golf, added: “Yes, it’s absolutely fantastic and great for the academy, it’s been a really good year for us with a lot of involvement in all sorts of golf tours around the world so it’s great for the whole team.”

Jumeirah Golf Estates picked up one of the most coveted prizes on offer – winning the Best Overall Club Experience of the Year award.

Managing Director Julian Small said: “This shows the commitment from us as we demand a great experience. There’s an awful lot of other great golf clubs in the region and I think we’re lucky that people feel this way about us, and it just makes us strive to get better and better.”

During the evening, Singha Corporation, the main sponsors of the MEGAs, also made a presentation on their amazing support of golf in Thailand.

It highlighted the vision of Santi Bhirombhakdi, the President and CEO of the company who is called the Father of Thai Golf, and the various long-term projects undertaken by the company to produce champions like Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

The MEGAs are owned and organised by Sport360 in association with the region’s golf bodies and sports councils, including Dubai Sports Council, Emirates Golf Federation, the European Tour, golf in DUBAi, MENA Golf Tour, Women’s Golf in Middle East, the UAE PGA and Oman Golf Committee. Troon Golf, Hydroturf, and Dubai Sports City all supported the 2016 edition of the awards.

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