Norwegian Karsten Warholm and Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah were named World Athletics Athletes of the Year on Wednesday.
Warholm won the men’s award over fellow Olympic gold medalists Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda, 5000m), Ryan Crouser (USA, shot put), Mondo Duplantis (Sweden, pole vault) and Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya, marathon).
Warholm twice broke what was the longest-standing world record among men’s track races set by American Kevin Young, who went 46.78 in the 1992 Olympic final. Warholm lowered it to 46.70 on July 1, then to 45.94 in the Tokyo Olympic final.
In the Olympic run alone, Warholm took 1.6 percent off the world record, just shy of Michael Johnson‘s 1.7 percent drop in the 1996 Olympic 200m final.
Crouser was the only other man to break a world record in an Olympic event this year. At the Olympic Trials, he threw 25 centimeters farther than the mark set by American Randy Barnes in 1990, three months before Barnes tested positive for a banned steroid and was suspended.
Crouser later also threw farther than Barnes’ old world record at the Olympics and the Prefontaine Classic, both in August. He now owns the three best outdoor throws in history, in addition to the indoor world record he broke in January.
Thompson-Herah earned the women’s award among finalists that included Sifan Hassan (Netherlands, 5000m/10,000m), Faith Kipyegon (Kenya, 1500m), Sydney McLaughlin (USA, 400m hurdles) and Yulimar Rojas (Venezuela, triple jump).
She became the first woman to win 100m, 200m and 4x100m golds at one Olympics since Florence Griffith Joyner in 1988. Thompson-Herah also clocked the second-fastest 100m and 200m times in history (10.54, 21.53), trailing only Griffith Joyner’s world records.
McLaughlin twice went under countrywoman Dalilah Muhammad‘s 400m hurdles world record of 52.16 seconds. She won duels with Muhmmad at the Olympic Trials (51.90) and the Tokyo Games (51.46). She also earned gold as part of the U.S. 4x400m relay.
Hassan in Tokyo became the second woman to earn a medal in three individual track races at one Olympics — 5000m gold, 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze. The other: also a Dutchwoman, Fanny Blankers-Koen in 1948, the mother of two dubbed the Flying Housewife.
Warholm is the first 400m hurdles sprinter to win Male Athlete of the Year since Young in 1992 and the first Norwegian man or woman to take the award. Thompson-Herah became the first Jamaican woman to win since Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in 2013.
Americans Athing Mu (Olympic 800m champion) and Erriyon Knighton (youngest U.S. Olympic male track and field athlete since miler Jim Ryun in 1964) won Rising Star awards given to the best U20 athletes. Mu is 19. Knighton is 17.
Bobby Kersee, who guided McLaughlin and Allyson Felix to gold in Tokyo, earned a coaching award. Kersee has now coached a gold medalist in every Olympic women’s event one lap or shorter.
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