Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana have been named the male and female World Athletes of the Year at the IAAF Athletics Awards 2016, held at Sporting Monte Carlo on Friday (2).
Bolt, who won the award five times between 2008 and 2013, added to his legacy by earning the trophy for a record sixth occasion. The sprinting superstar this year successfully defended his Olympic titles in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m, bringing his lifetime tally of Olympic gold medals to nine.
He 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.
He also went undefeated throughout the whole season at all distances, including heats.
“I live for the moments when I walk into a stadium and I hear a loud roar and Rio was outstanding,” said Bolt, whose award was presented by IAAF President Sebastian Coe. “One of the main reasons I’m continuing for another year is because of the fans; they don’t want me to retire. I have to give thanks to them.”
Ayana had a record-breaking year. After recording the fastest 10,000m debut in history in June, the Ethiopian went on to win the Olympic title at the distance in a world record of 29:17.45.
She added to her Olympic medal haul in Rio by taking bronze in the 5000m, her only loss of the year. Having recorded three of the eight fastest times at 5000m, she ended the year as the Diamond Race winner for that discipline.
She becomes the third Ethiopian woman to win this award, following Genzebe Dibaba in 2015 and Meseret Defar in 2007.
“I don’t have words to explain my feelings right now, I’m so excited,” said Ayana whose award was presented by International Athletics Foundation (IAF) Honorary President HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco. “Really, I’m so pleased.”