Taking the stage for the first time, Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana joined six-time IAAF World Athlete of the Year, Usain Bolt, to claim her place as the IAAF female World Athlete of the Year.
The IAAF Athletics Awards 2016 held at Sporting Monte Carlo on Friday. Usain Bolt had previously carted away the title of IAAF male World Athlete of the Year five times between the years 2008 and 2013. Now he is on his sixth IAAF trophy and a very well deserved one after he successfully defended his Olympic titles in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m this year.
His Rio 2016 Olympic wins brought his total tally of Olympic gold medals to nine, but it was not only the gold medal tally that put him over the top to win the IAAF World Athlete of the year. He also clocked season’s bests of 9.81 and 19.78 to win the 100m and 200m in Rio and then anchored the Jamaican team to a world-leading 37.27 when winning the 4x100m.
On her own end, Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana broke the 10,000m world record by over 14 seconds while winning the Olympic gold in Rio this summer. Her Olympic medal haul in Rio also saw her taking bronze in the 5000m which was her only loss in the year. She ended the year as the Diamond Race winner for the 5000m after recording three of the eight fastest times.
Usain Bolt is set to retire next year, following the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London, but he was pretty pleased by the win saying;
“When you get to be athlete of the year it means that all the hard work has paid off, so if I can win it for a sixth year means as much as the first one.”
Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana who became the third Ethiopian woman to win this award, after Genzebe Dibaba in 2015 and Meseret Defar in 2007 was also excited at the win stating;
“I don’t have words to explain my feelings right now, I’m so excited.”
Some other awards were presented at the IAAF Athletics Awards 2016. Canada’s Andre de Grasse, who won 200m silver and 100m bronze in Rio, was named the male rising star and the Olympic heptathlon champion Nafissatou Thiam was named the female rising star.
Harry Marra, who coached Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton who won the Olympic decathlon gold and the heptathlon bronze respectively, won the IAAF Coaching Achievement Award.
Tegla Loroupe who served as the Chef de Mission for the Refugee Olympic Team in Rio won the President’s award which recognizes and honors great service to athletics.