Neither Mo Farah nor Wayde van Niekerk was the IAAF’s world athlete of the year for 2017. Instead, that honor went to Mutaz Barshim of Qatar.
Bolt was honored instead with the President’s Award, which “recognizes and honors great service to athletics.”
Barshim, a high jumper, won the Diamond League title for the year and owns nine of the best 11 jumps in the world for 2017. He was the first high jumper to leap 2.40m or longer in five consecutive seasons. He was undefeated this season across 11 competitions, capped by the world championships. IAAF President Seb Coe presented Barshim’s trophy.
Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam was the female winner, after winning last year’s Female Rising Star Award. She won gold at the Rio Olympics in the heptathlon, and followed it up this year with the world championship title. HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco presented Thiam with the award.
“We celebrate your amazing contributions to a phenomenal year of athletics,” Coe said in a speech, according to an IAAF press release. “I’m particularly excited by the young generation of talent which so dramatically came of age on the world stage in 2017. Athletics looks forward to a strong and exciting future safe in your hands.”
The other awards were presented to:
Karsten Warholm, Norway, 400m hurdles – Male Rising Star award
Yulimar Rojas, Venezuela, triple jump – Female Rising Star award
Anna Botha – Coaching Achievement award (she is best known for coaching van Niekerk)
Cherry Alexander, managing director for the IAAF World Championships London 2017 – Women in Athletics award
Paul Sanwell, photographer – Athletics Photograph of the Year award (for his photo of Sally Pearson in the 100m hurdles semifinal at the world championships)