Bolt, Thompson up for awards on key weekend for IAAF’s future
MONTE CARLO, Monaco:
Track and field’s global authority, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), will today hand out awards to the year’s top male and female athletes amid a coming together of the sport’s hierarchy, which is also expected to bring with it considerable change towards repairing a damaged organisation.
Jamaicans Usain Bolt and Elaine Thompson are up for the respective male and female athlete of the year awards, but by the end of the week, it’s likely to be IAAF president Sebastian Coe, who leaves the principality with the biggest prize of all — trust.
Coe inherited an organisation on the brink of a total breakdown, following a massive doping scandal and the uncovering of conspiracies at the highest level of the organisation.
After a torrid year in the hot seat, Coe arrived in Monaco hoping to receive the rubber stamp for the 15-point reform package that he believes will not only return credibility to the sport and the organisation, but also ensure best practices in administration and governance, while significantly increasing the commercial and marketing weight behind the sport.
Council members will vote on Coe’s proposal tomorrow.
Before that the athletics world will come together to celebrate its ‘top of the class’ athletes with Bolt and Thompson among a top field of finalists, which is completed by South African Wayde van Niekerk and Britain’s Mo Farah for the male award and Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana and Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk joining Thompson in the running for the top female award.
Bolt, who already holds the record for most wins by a man or woman for the award, can push his tally to six, after his successes in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Van Niekerk’s 43.03 seconds gold medal run in Rio shattered a 17- year record in the 400m. Farah continued his Olympic reign, again winning the 5000m and 10,000m in Rio.
Thompson established herself as the new queen of the sprints, going unbeaten in the 100m, while taking the sprint double in Rio.
She also won silver in the 4x100m and bronze in the 60m at the world indoors.
Ayana ran 29:17.45 to set a new 10,000m mark on her way to winning gold in Rio, knocking off a record that stood for 23 years, while taking Olympic bronze plus the Diamond Race title over 5000m.
Hammer thrower Wlodarczyk registered three of the five best marks ever in her event on her way to winning gold and twice broke the record this year, eventually landing the implement 82.98m to close her season unbeaten in 30 finals with the European title and the IAAF World Hammer Throw Challenge trophy also on her mantle.
Awards will also be presented to the top rising stars in the sport with special focus and recognition also in place for coaching achievement and women in athletics.