Valerie Adams

Renaud Lavillenie

Renaud Lavillenie, Valerie Adams win IAAF Athlete of the Year awards

1 Comment

French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie and New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams won the IAAF Athlete of the Year awards, becoming the first athletes from their nations to win track and field’s highest annual honor.

Lavillenie, the 28-year-old Olympic champion, broke the pole vault world record with a 6.16m clearance Feb. 15. Ukraine legend Sergey Bubka had held the mark since 1992.

Lavillenie won the award over fellow finalists Qatar high jumper Mutaz Barshim and Kenyan marathoner Dennis Kimetto. Jamaican Usain Bolt had won Male Athlete of the Year five of the previous six years.

“We’re used to seeing Usain Bolt for the last five years, so it’s a big difference,” Lavillenie said. “I’m much, much smaller, but I’m very, very proud.”

Lavillenie is the first men’s pole vaulter to win an Athlete of the Year. Women’s pole vaulters Stacy Dragila and Yelena Isinbayeva have also won.

Adams, a two-time Olympic shot put champion, has won 56 straight competitions dating to 2010. She was a finalist for Female Athlete of the Year the previous three years before winning for the first time Friday.

“I really want to scream,” Adams said. “I’ll save it for later. … It is the icing on the cake for what has been an awesome career. … I stand here as a proud New Zealander. We have four million people, but 60 million sheep.”

The other women’s finalists were Ethiopian middle distance runner Genzebe Dibaba and Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers.

Adams is only the third thrower to win an IAAF Athlete of the Year award, which has been given since 1988. The others were javelin throwers — Brit Steve Backley in 1990 and Czech Jan Zelezny in 2000.

Bolt’s obsession with ‘Call of Duty’

Justin Gatlin not among IAAF Athlete of the Year award finalists

Justin Gatlin
Leave a comment

Justin Gatlin was not voted a finalist for the World Athlete of the Year, following criticism over his original nomination two weeks ago due to his doping past.

Gatlin was scrutinized for his inclusion on a 10-man candidate list announced Oct. 3 since he was banned four years for taking performance-enhancing drugs in 2006.

The men’s award finalists announced Friday were Qatar high jumper Mutaz Barshim, Kenyan marathon runner Dennis Kimetto and French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie.

The finalists were determined by an email poll of track and field officials that closed Thursday. The winners will be announced Nov. 21 after an IAAF council decision.

This season, Gatlin went undefeated over 100m and 200m and was the world’s fastest man in both distances. He never raced against Usain Bolt in 2014.

Barshim this season moved up from being tied as the fifth highest high jumper in history to alone at No. 2 behind world-record holder Javier Sotomayor. He took several attempts at breaking Sotomayor’s world record.

Kimetto broke the world record in the marathon in Berlin on Sept. 28.

In February, Lavillenie broke Sergey Bubka‘s nearly 21-year-old world record in the pole vault.

Two weeks ago, German Olympic discus champion Robert Harting asked for his name to be taken off the 10-man candidate list due to the inclusion of an athlete previously banned for doping (it wasn’t, but he wasn’t a favorite to be a finalist anyway).

IAAF vice president Seb Coe said he had “big problems” with Gatlin’s name being on the 10-man list.

The women’s finalists are New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams, Ethiopian middle distance runner Genzebe Dibaba and Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers.

None of the six men’s and women’s finalists has won an IAAF Athlete of the Year award before.

The 2013 finalists were Bolt (winner), British distance runner Mo Farah and Ukrainian high jumper Bohdan Bondarenko and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (winner), Czech Republic 400m hurdler Zuzana Hejnova and Adams.

Bolt, who won the IAAF World Athlete of the Year Award in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013, was not on the 10-man candidates list after he ran a total of 400m in an injury-shortened season.

This is Adams’ fourth straight year as a finalist.

Simone Biles still buzzing after World Championships whirlwind

Justin Gatlin among IAAF World Athlete of the Year candidates

Justin Gatlin
Leave a comment

Justin Gatlin could win IAAF World Athlete of the Year for his undefeated sprint season, four years after coming back from a four-year doping ban.

Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion, was among 10 candidates for the men’s award named by track and field’s international governing body Friday.

Usain Bolt, who won World Athlete of the Year five times in the last six years, is not a candidate. Bolt ran a total of 400 meters this season, set back due to March foot surgery. Gatlin was the world’s fastest man in the 100m and 200m in 2014.

Bolt won the IAAF World Athlete of the Year Award in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Kenyan David Rudisha, the world record holder in the 800m, won in 2010, when Bolt was hampered by injury and lost a 100m to Tyson Gay.

Rudisha is also not a candidate this year. Therefore, this year’s men’s winner will be a first-time recipient.

Here are the 10 men’s candidates:

Nigel Amos (BOT) — Diamond League 800m champion
Mutaz Barshim (QAT) — Became No. 2 all time high jumper
Jairus Kipchoge Birech (KEN) — Diamond League 3000m steeplechase champion
Bohdan Bondarenko (UKR) — Became No. 3 (tied) all time high jumper
Yohann Diniz (FRA) — Broke 50km race walk world record, undefeated
Justin Gatlin (USA) — Diamond League 100m champion, undefeated
Robert Harting (GER) — Won 13 of 14 discus competitions
Dennis Kipruto Kimetto (KEN) — Broke marathon world record
Renaud Lavillenie (FRA) — Broke pole vault world record, Diamond League champion
LaShawn Merritt (USA) — Diamond League 400m champion

The women’s recipient will also be a first-time winner. Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce and Allyson Felix won the last two years but were not among the nominees. Fraser-Pryce was slowed by injury this season, while Felix did not impress until late in the summer, coming off last year’s torn hamstring.

The women’s list includes two Americans but omitted three of the four U.S. women who won Diamond League season titles — Felix (200m), Tianna Bartoletta (long jump) and Jenny Simpson (1500m).

The women’s candidates:

Valerie Adams (NZL) — Diamond League shot put champion, undefeated
Genzebe Dibaba (ETH) — Broke indoor world records in 1500m, 3000m
Dawn Harper Nelson (USA) — Diamond League 100m hurdles champion
Caterine Ibarguen (COL) — Diamond League triple jump champion, undefeated
Francena McCorory (USA) — World Indoor 400m champion
Sandra Perkovic (CRO) — Diamond League discus champion
Dafne Schippers (NED) — European champion in 100m, 200m
Kaliese Spencer (JAM) — Diamond League 400m hurdles champion
Barbora Spotakova (CZE) — Diamond League javelin champion
Anita Wlodarczyk (POL) — Broken hammer throw world record

The lists will be narrowed to three finalists for each award after an email poll of track and field officials closes Oct. 16. The winners will be announced Nov. 21 after an IAAF council decision.

Justin Gatlin eyes more 200s after undefeated season