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Bolt wins World Athlete of the Year

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World record sprinter Usain Bolt was named the IAAF world athlete of the year Saturday in Barcelona, beating out American hurdler Aries Merritt and Kenyan distance runner David Rudisha, who both won gold in London. It was the fourth time in five years that the Jamaican took home the honor.

“I really worked hard and I was really focused this year,” Bolt said of his season. “This season was one of my toughest. I had my ups and downs, even though we don’t like to talk about them.”

The other two men didn’t leave empty-handed, though: Merritt earned the Inspiration award after winning gold in the most competitively 110m hurdle field in history, and then breaking the event’s world record a month later at a Diamond League meet.

Rudisha, who was the only other athlete to win top honors over the last five years when he took it in 2010, earned the performance of the year award for becoming the first person to ever dip below 1:41 in the 800m.

American sprinter Allyson Felix earned female athlete of the year honors after she won the 200m and ultimately took home three gold medals from London. She beat out British heptathlete Jessica Ennis and New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams.

“My biggest defeats have come at the Olympic Games,” Felix, who finished with silver in the Athens and Beijing 200m races, explained. “But I decided to rededicate myself even harder and it was a blessing in disguise. I was able to work harder than ever before and finally it all came together.”

Jan Hudec, Olympic bronze medalist skier, switches from Canada to Czech Republic

Jan Hudec
Getty Images
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Co-Olympic super-G bronze medalist Jan Hudec was granted a request by Alpine Canada to represent the Czech Republic next season after being left off Canada’s national team.

Hudec, 34, wasn’t eligible for Canada’s national team after racing once in 2015-16 due to the latest of his many knee surgeries, according to Alpine Canada.

“It is important to know that we continued to work with Jan after the team selection was announced, and let him know that we were more then willing to find accommodation that would enable him to return to the team,” Alpine Canada said in a press release. “However, at this stage of Jan’s career, he is making a decision that can best meet his desire to fulfill and lead a different way of life, that reaches beyond ski racing.”

The International Ski Federation must still grant Hudec’s request. Hudec was born in the Czech Republic.

At the Sochi Olympics, Hudec shared bronze with Bode Miller in the super-G. He is also the 2007 World Championships downhill silver medalist and a two-time winner of World Cup races.

The 2016-17 Alpine skiing World Cup season is expected to begin in Soelden, Austria, in late October.

MORE: Bode Miller says ‘good likelihood’ of comeback

Triplets set for Olympic history in Rio (video)

Luik sisters
NBC News
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Estonian sisters Leila, Liina and Lily Luik are set to become what is believed to be the first set of triplets to compete in an Olympics, according to Games historians.

The Luiks, identical triplets born Oct. 14, 1985, remain the only Estonian women to meet the Olympic qualifying time for the marathon. And since a nation can send three qualified athletes to the Olympic marathon, all three are in line to go to Rio.

The Estonia athletics federation’s qualifying cutoff is Wednesday. It doesn’t believe any other Estonians will register an Olympic qualifying time by then.

With most marathons taking place on weekends, it appears the Luiks are safe, even though none has run faster than 2:37, and the Olympic medal winners will likely be running in the low-to-mid 2:20s.

MORE: Ethiopian legend not on Olympic marathon team