TOKYO -- Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani, 24, who won Major League Baseball's 2018 American League Rookie of the Year Award, was presented the grand prix in this year's Mainichi sporting figure prizes at a hotel ere on Dec. 13.
The rookie prizes went to 16-year-old gymnast Takeru Kitazono, a student at Seifu high school in Osaka Prefecture, western Japan, and 28-year-old female wheelchair rugby player Kae Kurahashi, who belongs to Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd.
On hand to receive the culture award on behalf of Sports Community Karuizawa Club, a non-profit organization in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan, were Deputy Director Ichiro Sato and curler Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi. The distinguished service award for the late Sachio Kinugasa, a pillar of Nippon Professional Baseball team the Hiroshima Carp's golden age in the 1970s and '80s, was presented to his eldest son Tomoaki, 41.
The honorees were awarded certificates and bronze statuettes of the late Japanese runner Kinue Hitomi, Japan's first female Olympic medalist, by Masahiro Maruyama, president of The Mainichi Newspapers Co.
Ohtani, who received a 1 million yen prize for winning the grand prix, said, "My desire to take on challenges led to the (MLB) rookie of the year award and this (Mainichi sporting figure) award."
US Open Tennis Champion Naomi Osaka, 21, sponsored by Nisshin Foods Holdings Co., won the best athlete prize. She was not on hand, but sent a video message which was played at the ceremony.
The awards, presented during the ceremony at Tokyo Dome Hotel in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward, are supported by Takenaka Corp., Fujitsu Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corp.
(Japanese original by Masaharu Saito, Sports News Bureau)