History goes digital: AIPS Awards unveil 2020 winners with a message of hope from a Renaissance castle

  • March 23, 2021

AIPS President Gianni Merlo and host of the AIPS Sport Media Awards Valentina Clemente, journalist of Sky TG 24 on stage with the winners on the big screen.

Martin Mazur - AIPS Media

VIGEVANO, March 22, 2021 - What a magnificent night it was. The castle of Vigevano, a symbol of the Renaissance, became the stage for the AIPS Sport Media Awards ceremony 2020. A different gala in covid times, carrying a powerful message — in times of lockdowns and red zones, the rebirth is possible. It was inspiring, it was emotional, it was simply amazing.

Andrea Ceffa, the mayor of Vigevano, opened the ceremony in a video with AIPS president Gianni Merlo. “They say that even Leonardo da Vinci came here to get inspired, and I hope we can inspire many people from here, because this, too, it’s a kind of rebirth for us,” Merlo said.

After introducing the member of Executive Committee, Jurors and Panel Experts who paid a vital role in the judging process, Valentina Clemente, anchor and journalist of Sky TG 24, then formally introduced Gianni Merlo.

FUTURE “There is a light at the end of the tunnel, just as we see here, in this magnificent castle where we are today. But we have to work hard against corruption, against our own coronavirus that is fake news, match fixing, and to defend the access to sporting events. With this message of hope, let’s remember that after covid, we have to go back to our normal world that must be better than the past,” he said.

As an impactful video reminded us what journalism is really about, word after word, picture after picture, the candidates for the podium were waiting, online, connected from their homes. 

Each category was then presented, with the nominees crossing their fingers to know their final position.

Regretting not being able to be in Vigevano because of lockdown, AIPS Secretary General Jura Ozmec introduced the winners for Photography in Sport Action.

WORD TO THE WINNERS “It’s great news, I’m very happy, I wish there was no occasion of this photo to be created, but since this crash happened, let it be a warning for excess of ambitions and too much will to win,” said Andrzej Grygiel (Poland), whose picture Crash showed the horrific accident in the finish line of the Tour of Poland as no other. It was the only picture that showed Dylan Groenewegen falling to the ground after being pushed by Fabio Jakobsen.

Andrew Bernstein (2nd), with a stunning photo of LeBron James, and Eduardo Del Fresno (3rd), with the last breath in a rowing scene, were the other winners.

Writing Best Colour Piece came next and it was AIPS first vice president Esat Yilmaer announcing the podium.

“Thanks to the Jury, I’m so touched and happy. On behalf of my publication, my colleagues that contributed to this story, but especially to the family that lost a loving mom and wife to cancer, that inspired this story whose publication led to the ban of the use of fluorine wax in skiing in the whole world. Sometimes, journalism really counts,” said winner Bernt Jakob Oksnes (Norway), for his special report Mom is dying (Dagbladet), that was read by 1 million people, a fifth of the country population, in a few days.

Lars Spannagel (Germany) and Julian Linden with Jessica Halloran (Australia) came second and third, respectively.

Best Documentary, presented by AIPS Europe president Charles Camenzuli, crowned Lous Myles (UK), for Stop the Tour (BT Sport), in which sir Trevor McDonald tells the story of how sport helped bring down apartheid, via a multi decade protest movement in rugby and cricket. “I wasn’t expecting that at all. While sport did not end apartheid, it certainly contributed to it and I wish to thank all the people that participated in this documentary that contributed to it,” said Myles.

The investigative work of Hajo Seppelt, Grit Hartmann and Nick Butler (Germany) about doping, broadcast in ARD, came second, while Red Blood, a Canal+ production directed by Jean Marie Goussard, depicting the 1982 Formula 1 season with the most talented pair of drivers, Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi, finished third.

Best Audio category, presented by AIPS vice president Ioannis Daras had three different, well-built stories.

“I want to thank all the athletes that put all their jobs and careers at risk by protesting and for making a bigger statement than themselves and sending a message to the world,” said winner Tracey Holmes (Australia), whose show “The Ticket, Black Lives Matter and athletes’ right to protest” was awarded with the first prize. Dario Ricci (Italy), with a reconstruction of Italy 4 West Germany 3, “The match of an entire nation” for Radio24 finished second, while Moritz Cassalette (Germany), whose show “Enke, life and tragedy of a goalkeeper” came in third place. 

Best Photography Portfolio, announced by AIPS vice president Mohammed Hiji, followed. Adam Pretty (Australia), in a very emotional message, congratulated the other nominees and the athletes, “two amazing women” whom he captured in a stunning climbing portfolio in China ahead of the sport’s debut in the Olympics, a speech carrying a memorable family touch.

The second in this category was Roman Vondrouš (Czech Republic), with an incredible reportage of football outside the Bohemians Prague stadium and the third was Clive Brunskill (UK), with a stunning tennis portfolio.

The special award regarding investigation involved three different continents and a same, worrying topic: match fixing in football.

Sergio Rangel and Fred Justo, representing O’Globo (Brazil) unveiled the mafia of the lower divisions. “We are here with the rest of the crew, thank you to AIPS for this support. Everybody heard about match fixing, we too, when we started investigating, we had a big challenge, to know everything about the fixer. We came face-to-face with the fixer and we received many proof,” Rangel said.

Idah Waringa and Jeff Kinyanjui, in Kenya, were awarded for the Football Con, a joint work involving print and TV. “Winners and losers are decided way before kick-off,” they said in an investigation of the virus that is destroying Kenyan football. “We feel honoured, having received just incredible input from many people, and also thank Nation Media Group that gave us the platform for exposing this,” said Waringa. “Match fixing does not stop, it is still going on,” added Kinyanjui.

Swiss Patrick Oberli created Fixed, A Football Comedy, for Ziggosport TV in The Netherlands, uncovering the famous Togo-Bahrein game whose repercussions are still going on. “In 2010, when the match was played, it was a comedy all over the world. But nobody, even FIFA or Interpol, did an investigation on this match. This is the beginning of our documentary. Who were the actors. Our investigation was to find these people in Bahrain, Togo, Austria and many other places,” he said.

Video Athlete Profile was presented by Interim AIPS America President Carlos Julio Castellanos, who introduced the winners. The first prize was for Pierre Deprez (Belgium), with an emotional video, Piotr Van Montagu: An archer (not) like the others, broadcast on RTBF, showing the amazing skills of Van Montagu, who has no arms. “I’m very glad for this prestigious prize, but the one that must really be proudest is Piotr, the character of our video, a fantastic guy, a promising athlete, who had to train at home, living more alone than ever. This award will be a fantastic boost for him and we will of course give the proceeds to him,” said Deprez.

Second in this category came Lewis Johnson (USA), for Gift of Life, another emotional NBC Sports recount of the collapse of Kemoy Campbell while running an indoor race in New York. The third prize was for Jermain Raffington (Germany) with Sadio Mané - Made in Senegal, a documentary about the Liverpool striker and his origins.

For Writing Best Column, AIPS vice-president Evelyn Watta introduced winner Dina-Asher Smith (UK), a 200m world champion who writes powerful columns in the Daily Telegraph and Women’s Sport Monthly. The one that won was about racism and depicted her own story. “Obviously as an athlete I didn’t expect this, I’m kind of lost my words. Thanks for The Telegraph for offering me the chance to tell my story,” she said.

Second finished Andreea Giuclea (Romania), with her reflection “How do we reconcile the legend of Kobe Bryant with sexual abuse allegations” published in lead.ro, while third came Alexey Avdokhin (Russia) for his column on Russian state doping in sports.ru.

The video Short Feature was introduced by AIPS Africa president Mitchell Obi. And the winner was Hassen Guedioura (France), from MagTeam, who gave tennis player Ines Ibbou the platform for his famous Open letter to Dominic Thiem. Just when the pandemic was starting, this video depicted the harsh reality of low ranked tennis players and their struggle. “Special thanks to my team, but most importantly to Ines, who is an example of dignity and courage. She used her voice, as a young lady, as an African, as an Arab woman and above all, as a dedicated athlete. We will give her the money from this award,” announced Guedioura.

The Young Reporter categories winners were announced by AIPS Asia President Sattam Al-Sahli.

Clarisse Sih (Cameroon) was the Broadcasting winner for her investigation Karate Tai Sabaki, more than meets the eyes, on Cameroon Radio Television. Anna Szilágy (Hungary) won in Photography and Ari Schneider (USA) was the winner in Writing with the story of the Slovenian climbers published in The New York Times. 

From Barranquilla, Chelo De Castro, who celebrated his 101 birthday on March 19 joined the ceremony alongside his family members. He was the winner of the A Life In Sport Special Award, “Journalism needs persistence,” he said in a recorded video.

A special mention to colleagues that worked hard in Covid times was specially introduced in this edition, and the best and most valuable works that will receive a certificate of achievement were announced across the nine different categories.

A short video about sport in the pandemic followed. It was a reminder of what is coming next, which is nothing less than a new exciting edition of the AIPS Sport Media Awards, an e-college gathering for May, and the hope that next year, the Awards can have an in-person gala, as it will be the sign that the pandemic has been defeated.

To see all the winners, please click here.

To see the Top 10 final rankings, please click here.

To read about the amazing journey leading to sport media excellence, please click here.


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