After a sensational year Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and Sanya Richards of the USA were named Male & Female World Athlete of the Year for 2009 at the World Athletics Gala hosted by HRH Prince Albert II of Monaco last night.
Bolt, who has now won the award in consecutive years, was named Male Athlete of the Year ahead of Kenya’s Kenenise Bekele, American Tyson Gay, Norwegian Andreas Thorkildsen and Australian pole vault World Champion and Olympic gold medallist Steve Hooker.
The award caps off another stellar year for Bolt, who broke his own world records in both the 100m and 200m to secure victory at the Berlin World Championships held in August.
Bolt, who has been a sensation for the sport of athletics capturing the imagination of the world with his fluid motion and on camera antics, was humbled by the announcement.
Despite this, Bolt is seemingly unaffected by his ability to capture the world’s attention and was obviously humbled by the announcement.
“To be named athlete of the year is such a great honour, it shows that all the work we put in pays off,” he said.
Like Bolt across the shorter distances, Richards has dominated the women’s 400min 2009 with seven of the top ten times in the event for the year and a maiden world title.
Again like Bolt, Richards is a second time winner of the award following her victory in 2006.
“I was asked if this would feel the same as a world title and it does,” she said.
“Considering the other athletes I was up against this year, I know that it must have been a really tough decision.”
Her rivals were the 2007 winner Russian Yelena Isinbayeva, Croatian Blanka Vlasic, Pole Anita Wlodarczyk and shot put World Champion Valerie Vili of New Zealand.
Other winners at the event were:
Clyde Hart (USA) – World Coach of the Year
Gustav Schwenk (GER) – Inaugural IAAF World Journalist Award
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