Usain Bolt (JAM) and Sally Pearson (AUS) were named the Male and Female World Athletes of the Year for 2011 by IAAF President Lamine Diack earlier last night.
Bolt, who won the award for the third time, and Pearson, a first-time nominee and winner, will receive their trophies and US$100,000 prizes officially this evening at the 2011 World Athletics Gala, held at the Salle des Etoiles of the Sporting Club d’Eté.
The 2011 World Athletics Gala will be hosted by International Athletic Foundation (IAF) Honorary President HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and IAF & IAAF President Lamine Diack, who will each present the awards.
Bolt, 25, successfully defended his title in the 200m at the World Championships in Daegu clocking 19.40, the second fastest performance of the year. He concluded the Championships by anchoring a Jamaican quartet to a 37.04 World record in the 4x100m Relay and ended the season undefeated in four 200m races. He was also the 2011 world leader in the 100m at 9.76, and won five of his six races over the distance.
Pearson, also 25, dominated the women's 100m Hurdles this year, winning ten of her 11 competitions while producing seven of the season's quickest 11 performances. The highlight was her sensational 12.28 clocking to take the World title, making her the fourth fastest woman in history with the fastest performance in nearly two decades.
"This season was a really trying season for me, I really had to work hard and stand up my game,” said Bolt, who was also named Athlete of the Year in 2008 and 2009.
“There were some close races this season, I really had to push myself. So this (award) really means a whole lot to me. Because I really came out there hard this year, and all the hard work I put in paid off."
"It was just such an honour to be in the top ten this year,” said Pearson, who like Bolt was a World Youth champion in 2003. “To be able to win this for my country and for my region Oceania means a lot and hopefully will inspire junior athletes to stay in athletics.”
“It was a little surprising that I won," Pearson said, speaking highly of her co-finalists for the year’s top honour. "Vivian (Cheruiyot) was a three-time World champion and Valerie (Adams) just dominates every time she’s out there. She’s the role model athlete everyone should look up to."
- Other award winners -
- Performance of the Year -
Men – Yohan Blake (JAM) - 19.26, the second fastest 200m performance in history at the Memorial van Damme in Brussels.
Women – Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) - 5000m and 10,000m double victory at the World Championships in Daegu
Just 19 days after his surprise 100m victory at the World Championships, the 21-year-old Blake underscored his arrival on the international stage with a stunning 19.26 run in the Samsung Diamond League Final in Brussels, a performance just 0.07 seconds outside of Usain Bolt's World record. Blake's performance was more than half a second faster than his previous personal best of 19.78 from 2010, and moved him into the event's No. 2 position all-time.
Cheruiyot, 28, became just the second woman to ever capture the 5000/10,000m double victory at a World championships with her dominating runs in Daegu. Her double gold performance capped an undefeated season on the track and added to the World Cross Country title she won earlier in the year.
- Rising Stars -
Men – Kirani James (GRN), World 400m champion
Women – Christin Hussong (GER), World Youth Javelin Throw champion in Lille with championship record
Living up to the potential he showed when winning World Youth and World Junior titles, James took a thrilling victory in the 400m in Daegu, defeating the reigning Olympic champion with an Area junior record of 44.60. And he did it two days shy of his 19th birthday. He was faster still just nine days later, winning in Zurich with a 44.36 run, the second fastest of the year and a national record.
Hussong, 17, dominated the girls' Javelin Throw competition at the World Youth Championships in Lille, improving her own seasonal world-performances in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds. Her 59.74m best extended the championships record by nearly three metres.
- Coaching Lifetime Achievement Award -
John Velzian (KEN)
John Velzian, who received an IAAF Honorary Plaque from President Diack at this year’s 48th IAAF Congress in Daegu, Korea, has done remarkable service to the sport he loves. Hired as a physical education officer in Kenya some eight years before the east African country gained independence in 1963, Velzian has devoted his life to our sport, establishing national athletics standards for school children in Kenya. As director of the IAAF Regional Development Centre which is situated in “Moi International Stadium” in Nairobi, Kenya, he has shown himself to be a coach and a motivator without peer.
- Journalist Lifetime achievement award -
Alain Billouin (FRA)
For 33 years, Alain Billouin was a journalist specialised in athletics at L'Equipe where he headed the Olympic Sports group and was the "leader" of the athletics section. A former Vice-President of the Athletics Commission of the AIPS, Billouin was a member of the IAAF Press Commission from 1992-2007. [See related content for a separate story and biography.]
- World Athletics City Award -
In recognition of the wonderful atmosphere in Daegu stadium during the 2011 IAAF World Championships, an experience which was created especially by the many young Koreans who were watching athletics for the first time, the city of Daegu is honoured with the IAAF World Athletics City Award. This is the fourth time the award has been presented following the same distinction given to Helsinki, Gothenburg and Stuttgart.
Article and picture sourced from the IAAF website at http://www.iaaf.org/athletes/gala/2011/newsid=62919.html