Sprinters dominate athletics Oscars in glitzy ceremony in Barcelona
Allyson Felix and Usain Bolt were crowned world athletes of the year at the IAAF’s centenary gala in Barcelona on Saturday.
Olympic 200m champion Felix beat British heptathlete Jessica Ennis and New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams to the prestigious female athlete of the year honour, while in an ultra-competitive men’s section even Bolt himself admitted he was surprised to win ahead of David Rudisha and Aries Merritt.
As something of a consolation Rudisha was awarded the IAAF male performance of the year award for his tremendous 800m world record at the Olympics, while 110m hurdler Merritt took the IAAF inspiration prize after a year that saw him win the Olympic title and break the world record. Such was the standard this year, Britain’s Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah did not even make the top three shortlist for the men’s award.
Felix was also part of the victorious American 4x100m and 4x400m squads – breaking the world record in the former – while Bolt won the 100m and 200m at the Olympics and was part of the world record-breaking Jamaican 4x100m team at the London Games.
The awards for Felix and Bolt earned them $100,000 and came nine years after they had both received the IAAF Rising Star awards at a ceremony in Monaco. Bolt has now also won the IAAF male athlete of the year award four times and had flown into Barcelona from Jamaica to attend the gala event.
Maybe the 2012 Rising Star winners will also mature into senior champions like Felix and Bolt. This year’s male Rising Star winner Keshorn Walcott is already an Olympic champion – the Trinidadian javelin thrower took gold in London last summer after earlier winning the world junior title in Barcelona – while Anthonique Strachan of Bahamas, the world junior 100m and 200m champion, won the female Rising Star award.
Further award winners included the USA Olympic 4x100m team, who won the female performance of the year after setting a world record of 40.82 in London.
Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills, was also honoured as he was given a coaching lifetime achievement award by Sergey Bubka.
Sebastian Coe was congratulated by host Ato Boldon for organising such a great Olympic Games and Coe presented Elias Makori with the world journalist of the year award.
Masters athletes were also recognised with American Robert Lida, a M75 sprints world record-holder, winning the men’s prize and Lyn Ventris, an Australian W55 race walker, taking the female master of the year prize ahead of contenders such as British W65 distance runner Angela Copson.
» Five-page report from the IAAF Gala in Barcelona in Athletics Weekly’s November 29 issue.