After hitting the wall in 2014, and being chased by dogs in Ethiopia, Britain’s track hero says he is equipped to shine over 26.2 miles this time round
AW Readers’ Choice Awards 2016November 10, 2016
Pick your best performers of the year in our annual readers’ vote
It’s awards time again and, as we near the end of this Olympic and Paralympic year, we want you to tell us who has impressed you most in 2016.
Although these accolades are just a bit of fun with no real hardware up for grabs, what better honour is there for some serious bragging rights than being named an AW athlete of the year? So here’s your chance to shout about who you believe to have been the stand-out stars over the past 12 months.
Voting closes on December 1 with the results to be published in the December 8 edition of AW magazine.
Sorry, voting has now closed.
INTERNATIONAL MALE ATHLETE
Usain Bolt: The 30-year-old won Olympic titles in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m for the third consecutive time. This ‘triple triple’ saw him take the 100m in 9.81 and 200m in 19.78 before anchoring Jamaica in the 4x100m. During an otherwise quiet season he won the 200m at the London Anniversary Games in 19.89.
Ryan Crouser: The American set an Olympic record of 22.52m to beat reigning world champion Joe Kovacs by 74cm for gold in Rio. Before 2016, the 23-year-old had a PB of only 21.11m but after improving by well over a metre he ends this year ranked equal 10th on the world all-time rankings.
Mo Farah: Took the 5000m and 10,000m Olympic titles in style in Rio and ends 2016 with the world’s fastest 5000m of 12:59.29. Not a flawless year, though, as he finished third in the world half-marathon.
Eliud Kipchoge: After winning the London Marathon in April in 2:03:05 (eight seconds outside of the world record) the Kenyan took the Olympic title over 26.2 miles in Rio with 2:08:44 in warm conditions. In addition, he was crowned World Marathon Majors winner.
Omar McLeod: As well as winning the Olympic 110m hurdles title in Rio, the Jamaican took the world indoor crown in Portland over 60m hurdles. What’s more, he finishes 2016 with world-leading marks of 7.41 for 60m hurdles and 12.98 for 110m hurdles and became the first athlete to go both sub-13 seconds for the sprint hurdles and sub-10 for 100m.
Ashton Eaton: The combined events great won gold in Rio with an Olympic record-equalling score of 8893. Indoors, he took the world heptathlon title in Portland with 6470 and was unbeaten all year.
David Rudisha: The Kenyan has struggled with injury since London 2012, but in Rio he was back to his best with gold in 1:42.15 – a world-leading mark for 2016 and the world’s fastest time for four years. Elsewhere, he became No.2 all-time over 600m with 73.10.
Wayde van Niekerk: A scintillating 43.03 world record for 400m was one of the highlights of the Rio Olympics. In that race he blew away the challenges of Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt. His unbeaten streak of races included the African 200m title and a 9.98 for 100m at altitude.
INTERNATIONAL FEMALE ATHLETE
Elaine Thompson: Jamaican won a sprint double at the Olympics, topping the world list at both events (10.70 and 21.78) and remaining unbeaten at the shorter distance. Also took world indoor 60m bronze and relay silver.
Anita Wlodarczyk: During an unbeaten season, the Pole recorded six of the best nine throws in history, including her world record 82.29m to win the Rio Olympics and her 82.98m two weeks later in Warsaw.
Almaz Ayana: Her 10,000m of 29:17.45 in Rio is one of the most outstanding performances in history, taking more than 15 seconds off a world record once thought unbeatable. Only bronze at 5000m, the distance at which she just missed the world record this year.
Kendra Harrison: Broke a 28-year-old world 100m hurdles record with 12.20 in London. Flopped at US trials, thus missing the Olympics, and at the World Indoors, but otherwise unbeaten in 10 outdoor competitions, also recording a 12.24.
Caster Semenya: Returned to her all-dominating best to record three sub-1:56 performances and ease to the Olympic title. Showed great range with 4:01.99 for 1500m and 50.40 for 400m, even winning a Diamond League in the latter. One defeat (at 400m) in 24 races.
Sandra Perkovic: Undefeated in 11 discus competitions, including at the Olympics, had two throws over 70 metres, including her world lead of 70.88m, which was the second longest in 24 years. Two metres better than the rest of the world in 2016.
Ruth Jebet: Set world 3000m steeplechase record of 8:52.78 and was also sub-nine in winning at the Olympics by more than seven seconds. Avenged early defeat by staying unbeaten for her other five competitions.
Shaunae Miller: The Olympic champion was the world’s quickest with 49.44 – one of three sub-50 times and was unbeaten in her six races over one lap. Also clocked 22.05 for 200m to rank fifth in the world this year.
BRITISH MALE ATHLETE
Mo Farah: Completed an Olympic ‘double double’ by retaining both his 5000m and 10,000m titles and also ran the quickest 5000m in the world this year with 12:59.29 at the Anniversary Games. Broke the British 3000m record and claimed world half-marathon bronze.
Greg Rutherford: Claimed Olympic long jump bronze four years after gaining gold and also successfully defended his European title. His 8.31m season’s best puts him in the top 10 in this year’s world rankings and top of the UK list by 17 centimetres.
Andrew Butchart: Clocked a 13:08.61 5000m PB in Rio to move to third on the UK all-time list and sixth in the Olympic final on his debut. Won the British Championships and also ran PBs over 3000m, the mile and 10km.
Adam Gemili: Took 0.01 off his 200m PB with 19.97 in Brussels to consolidate his third position on the UK all-time list. Missed out on Olympic bronze by just three thousandths of a second and formed part of GB’s European gold medal-winning 4x100m team.
Callum Hawkins: Broke the Scottish half-marathon record and moved to second on the UK all-time list behind only Mo Farah with 60:24 at the Great Scottish Run. Finished ninth in both the Olympic marathon and European half-marathon. Ran a marathon PB of 2:10:52 in London.
Matthew Hudson-Smith: Ran 44.48 to make the 400m final in Rio on his Olympic debut and went on to finish eighth. Won the British Championships and formed part of GB’s bronze medal-winning 4x400m team at the European Championships.
Tom Bosworth: Placed sixth in the Olympic 20km race walk for the highest finish by a British athlete in the event since 1972. His 80:13 broke the UK record of 80:41 he set when winning the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in Dudince this year.
Robbie Grabarz: Secured high jump silver at the World Indoor Championships and European Championships before finishing joint fourth at the Olympics with a season’s best clearance of 2.33m. Won the British outdoor title.
BRITISH FEMALE ATHLETE
Laura Muir: World No.1 over 1500m, twice beating the British record, including the 16th fastest ever time of 3:55.22 in Paris. Won the Diamond League to cap a year of consistent brilliance, though disappointed with seventh in the Olympics.
Sophie Hitchon: Made history in becoming the first British woman to win an Olympic hammer medal with a final-round, British record-breaking effort of 74.54m to lift her up from fifth on to the podium. Also finished fourth at the Europeans.
Jessica Ennis-Hill: Added an Olympic heptathlon silver to go with her gold from London in 2012, showing championship pedigree in abundance as she overcame an early-season Achilles injury which threatened to derail her year.
Eilidh Doyle: Scotland’s first athletics Olympic medallist since 1988 as a crucial cog in the British 4x400m team. Reached the 400m hurdles Olympic final and enjoyed Diamond League wins in Doha and Monaco with a 54.09 personal best in the latter.
Dina Asher-Smith: Won her first senior individual title in the 200m at the European Championships. Part of a young British record-breaking 4x100m relay squad who won silver in Amsterdam, followed up with a bronze medal in Rio.
Jazmin Sawyers: Pulled a personal best out of the bag late on at the British Championships to secure long jump qualification for Rio and add to her national indoor title. Won silver at the European Championships and was eighth at the Olympics.
Lynsey Sharp: Ran sub-2:00 on nine occasions, breaking her own Scottish record in the Olympic final with 1:57.69 to finish sixth in one of the most stacked fields in recent memory.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: The new British high jump record-holder with 1.98m after an enthralling head-to-head with eventual Olympic heptathlon champion Nafi Thiam over the high bar. Also ended 2016 as the UK’s No.1 outdoor long jumper with 6.84m.
BRITISH UNDER-20 ATHLETE
Alex Yee: Had a big win in front of the BBC cameras in the Great Edinburgh XCountry International under-20 race and finished ninth in the 5000m at the World Junior Championships. Also won the world junior duathlon title, displaying his breadth of talent.
Morgan Lake: At still only 19 years old, Lake made her Olympic debut this year and reached the high jump final in Rio with an equal lifetime best jump of 1.94m, finishing 10th overall. Also came seventh in the IAAF World Indoor Championship pentathlon.
Harry Hughes: The future of British men’s javelin throwing. A 75.46m PB came in May, followed by English Championship and English Schools titles. Came seventh at the World Indoors and went beyond 70 metres in all but one competition.
Callum Wilkinson: Britain’s only medallist at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz with a 10km walk gold medal was also the country’s first global walking champion in 52 years – since Ken Matthews’ 1964 Olympic title in Tokyo. Now ready to step up to 20km.
Adam Hague: The pole vaulter was fifth at the IAAF World Juniors with a season’s best of 5.40m, while his 5.53m earlier in the year put him second on the world junior rankings indoors. Only three British senior athletes went higher overall in 2016.
Bobby Clay: Won the under-20 race at the Great Edinburgh XCountry International and finished seventh in the IAAF World Junior Championships 1500m. She ran PBs of 2:04.32 for 800m and 4:10.61 for 1500m during a fine 2016.
Harriet Knowles-Jones: Finished second in the Great Edinburgh XCountry International under-20 race, won the English junior cross-country title and placed eighth in the World Juniors 1500m in a 4:15.49 PB.
Imani Lansiquot: Placed fourth in the World Juniors 100m, clocking 11.17 in her heat to put her joint fourth on the world under-20 list and fourth on the UK senior list. That time also puts her second on the UK junior all-time list and joint 10th on the senior list.
BRITISH UNDER-18 ATHLETE
At the request of the award nominees, voting has closed for this category. In a further tribute to Aldershot, Farnham and District athletes Stacey Burrows and Lucy Pygott, the eight nominees have asked that the award be made to the two talented teenage runners who tragically lost their lives on Tuesday November 8. You can read more about their tribute here.
George Mills: The Harrogate Harrier won the European youth 800m title in Tblisi in 1:48.82 and later improved to 1:48.36 in Oxford. He was runner-up to the older Daniel Rowden in the England Under-20 Championships and ranked No.3 in the UK this year as an under-20.
Jona Efoloko: The Sale sprinter clocked 21.15 to beat Sweden’s Kasper Kadestal by three hundredths of a second to take 200m gold at the European Youth Championships. He also won England Athletics titles indoors and outdoors and ends 2016 with PBs of 10.59 for 100m and 21.12 for 200m.
Jake Norris: After a UK under-18 hammer record of 78.54m with the 5kg implement at the Loughborough International in May, he improved to 79.20m to claim silver at the European Youth Championships in Tbilisi, while with the 6kg hammer he is ranked No.1 in the UK for under-20s this year.
Isabelle Boffey: European youth winner over 800m with 2:07.19, the Enfield & Haringey athlete also ran 2:05.68 to break into the UK all-time rankings for under-17s. Indoors, she also impressed with a swift 2:06.68.
Holly Mills: The 16-year-old took European youth gold in the long jump and won bronze against senior athletes behind Jazmin Sawyers and Shara Proctor at the Olympic trials. Showing her versatility, she also took national and area hurdles titles at distances ranging from 60m to 300m.
Niamh Emerson: Improved her UK under-18 heptathlon record to 5919 to win bronze at the European Youth Championships as she set PBs in the sprint hurdles, shot, 200m and javelin. She also won England combined events titles indoors and outdoors and ranks No.2 in the UK for 2016 in high jump and long jump.
Sabrina Sinha: Silver in the 1500m at the European Youths, whereas domestically she captured the English Schools cross-country title, finished runner-up in the Inter-Counties and National Cross and won the London Mini Marathon.
Jake Heyward: Another European youth champion from Tblisi, this time over 1500m, the Cardiff athlete has had a great year with an 800m best of 1:50.53 and 1500m of 3:46.50 as he also took the England Athletics 1500m title and Welsh cross-country gold.
BRITISH MALE PARA-ATHLETE
Paul Blake: Comfortably took gold in the T36 400m at the Paralympics with 54.49 and also won silver in the 800m behind a world-record setter.
Jonnie Peacock: Retained his blue riband T44 100m title as the event reached the highest-ever standard in depth. In Loughborough ran 10.68 – just 0.07 outside the world record. Also won the European title at 100m.
Aled Davies: Claimed Paralympic gold in the F42 shot put and earlier set a world record of 54.14m in the discus. European golds at the shot and discus. With the able-bodied implements, took Welsh indoor shot put bronze with 14.05m, which puts him inside the top 50 in the UK.
Richard Whitehead: Set world record of 23.03 in the T42 200m in London and was four hundredths outside with a Paralympic record in the heats in Rio before winning the final. Took silver in his weaker event, the 100m, having earlier in the year missed the world record by just two hundredths.
Dave Henson: Took T42 200m bronze behind Richard Whitehead just four years after beginning in the sport following two amputations as a result of injuries sustained while serving in Afghanistan. Second over 200m and fourth over 100m at the Europeans.
Toby Gold: Won silver in the T33 100m in Rio and his season’s best of 17.49 was within three quarters of a second of the world record. Competed prolifically at a range of distances, clocking 61.71 for 400m and 66:49 for the half-marathon.
Stephen Miller: Gained bronze at the Paralympics in the F32 club throw and won the same medal at the European Championships.
David Weir: The Paralympic legend had an annus horribilis by his high standards, but won gold in the 400m, 800m, 1500m and 5000m at the Europeans. Recorded the first-ever sub-three wheelchair mile (2:57). Had two final placings in Rio and was third in the London Marathon.
BRITISH FEMALE PARA-ATHLETE
Kadeena Cox: Became the first Brit since 1984 to gain gold medals in two different sports at a single Paralympics when she won the T38 400m in a world record after winning the cycling C4-5 500m time trial. Also claimed 100m bronze and T35-38 4x100m relay silver in Rio.
Libby Clegg: Broke world records in both the T11 100m and 200m and completed a Paralympic sprint double in Rio. This came despite a switch in her classification which means she must now run blindfolded. She also only started working with new guide runner Chris Clarke in February.
Hannah Cockroft: Took her Paralympic gold medal haul to five after winning three titles in Rio in the T34 100m, 400m and 800m. Her 400m win was secured in a world record time, while she also broke the world record for 800m prior to the Games.
Sophie Hahn: Clocked 12.62 in the Paralympic T38 100m to miss her own world record by just 0.02 and smash the Paralympic record before equalling her time to win gold. Formed part of the silver medal-winning 4x100m team and also gained European 100m and relay golds and 200m silver.
Sophie Kamlish: Broke April Holmes’ 10-year-old T44 100m world record with 12.93 to win her Paralympic heat before going on to finish fourth in the final in a time of 13.16. Finished second in the IPC Grand Prix Final in London.
Jo Butterfield: Improved her own F51 club throw world record to 22.81m to win Paralympic gold after also taking the European title with 22.75m. Finished fifth in the discus in Rio.
Georgie Hermitage: Dominated the Paralympic T37 100m and 400m finals by breaking the world records in both events to take double gold before also forming part of the silver medal-winning 4x100m team. Won four European golds in the 100m, 200m, 400m and relay.
Hollie Arnold: Broke a four-year-old F46 javelin world record and then improved it to 43.01m to win Paralympic gold by more than a metre and a half. Unbeaten this year.
BRITISH MASTERS ATHLETE
Tony Bowman: Won the M80 100m and 80m hurdles double at the World Masters Championships in Perth. Also took triple European indoor gold in the 60m, 60m hurdles and 200m. Has set UK records in the 200m (32.54), 80m hurdles (14.93), 200m hurdles (40.38) and pentathlon (3040).
Carole Filer: Won four individual world gold medals in the high jump, long jump, 80m hurdles and heptathlon and gained a 300m hurdles silver. Was first in the European indoor high jump, long jump and pentathlon. Set UK W60 records in the high jump (1.43m), long jump (4.48m), 80m hurdles (13.28), heptathlon (5927) and pentathlon (4305).
Ian Hudspith: Only ran one masters race, achieving the fastest leg at the relays, but did set a British masters record at the Olympic trials as his 30:38.08 10,000m in the B race was a UK M45 record. Still good enough to compete in the seniors, he was in the Morpeth team in the National Road Relays and was first vet in the Great North Run with a time of 66:52.
Julia Machin: Last year her sister Di Norman was a contender and the former 1.92m high jumper was a record-breaker herself in 2016. Jumped a UK W45 high jump record of 1.65m in the Southern Vets League final and showed her versatility by also winning the triple jump, shot, 200m and B 400m.
Anne Martin: The versatile athlete entered the W80 class at the start of the year. She won a world title in the steeplechase and also medalled in the long jump, 800m, 1500m, hammer and triple jump. Also won seven European medals indoors, winning the long and triple jump. Set UK age group records at the 200m (44.55), 800m (4:10.97), 1500m (8:21.72), 2000m steeplechase (13:38.34), long jump (2.46m), triple jump (5.70m) and weight (8.57m).
Jo Pavey: It was a relatively quiet year for Pavey as she struggled with fitness and, when she finished tenth in the Olympic trials 10,000m, her dream of a record fifth Olympics for a GB track runner looked over. But she bounced back with a world masters W40 record when finishing fifth in the Europeans and then improved that to 31:33.44 when finishing 15th in the Olympics. In both races she was the leading Briton.
Caroline Powell: Dominated the W60 sprints as she won world titles at 100m, 200m and 400m and she also won a triple at the European masters indoors, taking gold in the 60m, 200m and 400m. She won 17 of her 20 races in 2016, her three losses coming in Exeter open meetings against much younger opposition.
Anthony Whiteman: Achieved no records nor titles this year – he enters the M45s this November – but he still impressed at 800m. He ran 1:49.56 – the oldest ever man to break 1:50 for the two-lap race and, at the age of 44, he still made the British Championships 800m final.
Andy Butchart: Rose to prominence with fast times over the 5000m in the US at the start of the outdoor season and kicked on impressively. Reached the Olympic final where he finished sixth, clocking a 13:08.61 to go third on the all-time British list.
Joel Fearon: Primarily a bobsledder, Fearon came into his own once he returned from a niggle suffered in May, running 9.96 at the England Athletics Championships to go joint-third on the UK all-time list. Consistently in the 10.0s and finished the year as UK No.1.
Jess Martin (née Andrews): Now based in Andorra, Martin returned from a competitive hiatus domestically with a bang at the Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs to win the British title and qualify for the Olympics where she ran a 31:35.92 personal best.
Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake: Ran the second fastest British 200m in history of 19.95 while at college in the USA. Favourite for the NCAAs titles but injury curtailed his bid, though he returned to twice run well at his debut Olympics.
Callum Hawkins: The 24-year-old proved he’s the future of British marathon running, taking the initiative on the roads in Rio and finishing a respectable ninth. Set a Scottish half-marathon record with a breath-taking performance at the Great Scottish Run.
Desiree Henry: Finished 2016 as the UK’s No.1 100m runner after an 11.06 personal best. Regularly running in the 11.1s or 11.0s, she finished third in the Diamond League race. Won Olympic 4x100m relay bronze as part of a British record team.
Daryll Neita: Improved her personal best over the 100m by nearly two tenths of a second, qualifying for the Olympics at 19 years old. Showed maturity to frequently anchor the 4x100m squad, and finished the year with Olympic bronze.
Elliot Giles: Fought his way through years of injury to enjoy his best season. Won bronze in the European Championships over the 800m in a high-quality field and secure a last-gasp Olympic qualifying time in the process.