Rudisha, Vlasic scoop athlete of year awards

Sunday, November 21, 2010

MONTE CARLO - Kenyan 800 metres world record holder David Rudisha was named the youngest World Athlete of the Year Sunday by the IAAF ruling body while Croatian high jumper Blanka Vlasic picked up the 2010 women’s award.

The winners were announced at the World Athletics Gala in Monaco and presented their trophies by International Athletic Foundation (IAF) Honorary President Prince Albert of Monaco and IAF and IAAF President Lamine Diack.

Rudisha is the youngest athlete at 21 years 338 days and the first Kenyan to secure the prestigious award, which was won in 2008 and 2009 by Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, after setting two World records over the 800 metres as well as claiming victory in the African Championships.

Rudisha set his records within eight days after his continental success in Nairobi, recording 1:41.09 seconds in Berlin Aug 22 and following it up with a new world best mark of 1:41.01 in Rieti, Italy a week later.

“I must say that being Athlete of the Year is a tremendous performance and honour, something we all as athletes want to achieve,” said Rudisha.

Also shortlisted for the award were Eritrean half-marathon world-record holder Zersenay Tadesse, American sprinter Tyson Gay, who lifted the accolade in 2007, US 110 metres hurdler David Oliver and Norwegian javelin thrower Andreas Thorkildsen.

Rudisha said that it is possible to dip below 1:40 minutes but did not want to make predictions because the World Championships and Olympics, where races are tactical rather than fast, take centre stage in the next years.

“Running under 1:40 is far away. I think I was saying this year 1:40 might be possible and that is what I’m aiming for, though it depends on the system. Next year we have the world championships, the Olympics the following year. That might sort of hinder some of forecast of a fast time. But I think myself 1:40 is possible,” he said.

World indoor champion Vlasic, who was also shortlisted in 2007 and 2009, becomes only the third high jumper in the 23-year history of the Gala to lift the award, following German Heike Henkel and Hestrie Cloete of South Africa.

Vlasic won the world indoor championships and was also crowned European champion this year. She won 18 out of 20 competitions in 2010 and posted a season best of 2.05 metres.

“This is an amazing achievement, it can’t get better than this. I’m proud and I’m honoured,” said Vlasic.

“I struggled in each competition this year. So the step I made this year psychologically meant more than being able to jump a certain height. So winning this award after this season means even more.

The 27-year-old was up against sprinters Allyson Felix of the US and Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown, Commonwealth Games 3,000 metres steeplechase winner Milcah Chemos of Kenya and British heptathlete Jessica Ennis.

Felix has won the last three world titles over 200 metres while Campbell-Brown has lifted the last two Olympic Games crowns and also took 100 metres gold at the 2007 worlds in Osaka. World 400 metres champion Sanya Richards of the US claimed the 2009 award.

Filed under: Olympic Games

will not be displayed