Pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis of Sweden and Venezuelan triple jumper Yulimar Rojas were Saturday declared the male and female World Athletics athletes of the year 2020 respectively as Kenyan athletes missed out.
Peres Jepchirchir from Kenya, who recaptured the world half marathon title besides breaking the half marathon world record twice, lost the battle to Rojas, who also broke the triple jump world record twice.
Jepchirchir twice broke the world half marathon record for a women-only race, winning the Prague Half Marathon on September 5 in 1:05:34 and at the World Half Marathon Championships on October 17 in 1:05:16.
Jepchirchir and Rojas made the final list of five athletes from a pool of 10 nominees for the female top award.
Others were Letesenbet Gidey (Ethiopia), Elaine Thompson-Herah (Jamaica) and Sifan Hassan (Netherlands).
Athletics Kenya missed out on the newly introduced Federation of the Year Award where Polish Athletics Association won the category.
The Polish federation successfully delivered much of the country’s competitive calendar in spite of the pandemic, including staging three World Athletics Continental Tour competitions, two in Chorzow and one in Bydgoszcz.
Together with the Local Organising Committee and local authorities, the federation was instrumental in helping to deliver a safe and successful World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia.
Kenya delivered a hugely successful Kip Keino Classic, one of the events in the 2020 World Athletics Continental Tour.
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The other nominees were Peruvian Athletics Federation, Palestine Athletic Federation, Nicaraguan Athletics Federation and Athletics New Zealand.
Duplantis, who was undefeated in 16 competitions, broke the world record in the pole vault twice (6.17m and 6.18m) and produced the highest outdoor vault of all time (6.15m).
Duplantis beat another favourite, Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, who broke three world records at 5,000m (12:35.36), 10,000m (26:11.00) and 5km on the roads (12:51). He finished fourth at the World Half Marathon Championships on his debut over the distance.
It was a double victory for Duplantis after his parents, Greg and Helena Duplantis, won the Coaching Achievement Award.
Interestingly, a photograph of children competing at Discovery Cross Country Championships in January this year in Eldoret taken by Briton Michael Steele, scooped the Photo of the Year Award.
The World Athletics ‘Covid Inspiration Award’ that was voted by fans went to “Ultimate Garden Clash” by Renaud Lavillenie.
Athletes Community Award went to athletics clubs across the world while the famous duo of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics Black Power Salute, Tommie Smith and John Carlos were the winners of the President’s Award.
The virtual awards were presided over by World Athletics President Sebastian Coe with legendary sprint stars Sanya Richards-Ross and Ato Boldon as hosts.