Swedish pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis and Venezuelan triple jumper Yulimar Rojas were named the world track and field athletes of the year during the World Athletics Awards on Saturday.
Duplantis, a 21-year-old born and raised in Louisiana by a Swedish mother and an American father, recorded the highest pole vault clearances in history indoors (6.18 meters) in February and outdoors in September (6.15), breaking records held by Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie and Ukrainian Sergey Bubka.
He became the youngest man and first Swedish man or woman to win the award, given out annually for each gender since 1988.
The other male finalists included Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei, who broke the 5000m and 10,000m world records.
The lone American finalist of either gender was shot putter Ryan Crouser, who won all 10 of his competitions and improved his personal best by one centimeter (22.91 meters) to move into a tie for third on the all-time list.
Rojas, the 25-year-old world champion, broke a 16-year-old world indoor record in the triple jump with a 15.43-meter leap in February. She became the second South American female triple jumper to win Athlete of the Year in the last three years, joining Colombian Olympic champion Caterine Ibargüen.
“I expected to be nominated … but I did not expect to be the winner,” Rojas said. “Being one of the finalists was like winning for me.”
Rojas beat a finalists field that included fellow world-record breakers Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey (5000m), Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan (hour run) and Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir (half marathon, women only), plus Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson.
Last year’s award winners were Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge and American 400m hurdler Dalilah Muhammad.
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