Loroupe honoured as Bolt, Ayana win Athlete of the Year Awards
Usain Bolt for a record sixth time and Ethiopian record holder, Almaz Ayana were named the IAAF World Male and Female Athletes of the Year in a glittering ceremony in Monaco, Monte Carlo on Friday night.
At the star-studded award ceremony, Kenya’s Tegla Loroupe made history by being named the first ever recipient of the IAAF President’s Award that was introduced by Lord Sebastian Coe for her work achievement that saw her become the pioneering Chef-de-Mission for the Refugee Olympics Team in Rio.
“I want to say that sports, we need to give back, create room for love and reconciliation in the sport. As sportspeople, we are proud to be here and I look forward to run with you,” the former world women’s marathon record holder who fought back tears said to resounding applause.
“This award goes to people who have shown lifelong passion and commitment to bring together people in sport,” Lord Coe said when introducing it to the gathered guests.
Over 200,000 people voted in social media to help in determining the big awards of the night where Bolt and Ayana prevailed as the Ethiopian stepped on the grand stage for the first time as the Jamaican was honoured for winning his third Olympics ‘triple-triple’ at the Rio summer games..
“Without the fans I would be nothing. One of the reasons I’m continuing is because of the fans, the President does not want to retire. Definitely competing against the best is one of the things I shall miss and the energy from the crowd,” Bolt told the gathering that had among others Kenyan fellow Olympics winners David Rudisha and Conseslus Kipruto.
The man who is accustomed to be the showstopper and who will be retiring from the sport next year and was asked on stage what he would miss most and his plans after hanging his golden spikes.
“We all know, it’s the training and I just want to point out that we have been talking about it with Wayne. I want to play a role in helping track and field and continue doing much charity works.
“I have a great face for TV and I look good in a suit and I think I can be a great movie star, I’m not the James Bond type of guy but yeah,” the Jamaican superstar was decked out in a dark suit and red tie said as he accepted his award much to laughter and applause.
Bolt beat South African men 400m record holder Wayde van Niekerk and Britain’s double distance champion Mo Farah who also won in Rio to the gong.
“I knew I would be the winner only when I finished the race I finished it,” Ayana said in her native Ahmaric with Ethiopia legend and retired great, Haile Gebrselassie acting as her translator, an award in itself.
She won the Rio Olympics in a staggering world record of 29:17.45, breaking the previous standard set by Chinese athlete Wang Junxia, which had stood for 23 years. No one had previously managed to get within 22 seconds of Wang’s record.
Jamaican Elaine Thompson and Anita Wlodarczyk from Poland who won gold medals in Rio were the other finalists for the female athlete top award.
Canadian 200m silver medallist and 4x100m bronze Olympics bronze medallist, Andre De Grasse was named the IAAF Male Rising Star Award winner.
De Grasse, 21, could not be in Monte Carlo to receive his gong since he was studying for his final exams exams University of California.
“Thank anyone who has been part of my journey. I appreciate the recognition and use this award as motivation going forward. I look forward to seeing you in 2017,” de Grasse said in a video message played at the Monaco Bay Hotel hall.
Belgian Heptathlon Olympics champion Nafissatou Thiam was honoured as the IAAF Female Rising Star Award receipient
“Before getting there, I did not believe I could not win gold. Five PBs don’t happen each day but I will try to do it again next year,” the 22 year-old who sparkled in a golden flowing dress on stage told the gathering.
The IAAF Coaching Achievement Award 2016 went to American Harry Marra who coached the Olympics champion and men Decathlon record holder, Ashton Eaton to glory in Rio as well as Belgian Brianne Theisen-Eaton who won bronze in the women Heptathlon.
“I say to them Keep It Simple and Stupid (KISS), there is nothing else, no voodoo or magic, just keep it basic,” he said of his famous charges.
Polyxeni Argeitaki, a former middle-distance champion for Greece, won IAAF Women in Athletics Award.
“Athletics if my life, you don’t stop even when you retire,” the lady who has been involved deeply in the sport said.
“Thanks to your determination and tenacity, today we are coming out of this trouble. The IAAF World Championships in Athletics will mark the end of the trouble.
“This evening we are united to honour the best athletes. I hope you will generate more excitement and emotions next year with your achievements and performances,” His Serene Highness and Patron of International Athletics Foundation patron, Prince Albert II of Monaco who was the host said in his remarks.
“We removed the last gender barrier in the sport when we allowed women to take part in the 50km race at the Rome Race Walking Championships. We had great performances from Kenya and Ethiopia at the Olympics Games in Rio. Rio reminded us no other sport is as diverse and popular as athletics.
“Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana world record in 10000m and South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk world record in 400m almost upstaged Usain Bolt in the men 100m final before he proved his greatness once again and Anita Wlodarczyk in the women hammer throw,” Coe had told the hall earlier.
“If the public believes there are cheats in our sport, they will lose interest and seek their entertainment else. It’s time to show courage and dedication to our athletes of today,” he added.
FULL AWARD LIST
Usain Bolt (JAM)- Male Athlete of the Year
Almaz Ayana (ETH)- Female Athlete of the Year
Tegla Loroupe (KEN)- President’s Award
Andre De Grasse (CAN)- Male Rising Star
Nafissatou Thiam (BEL)- Female Rising Star
Polyxeni Argeitaki (GRE)- Women in Athletics
Harry Marra (AME)- Coaching Achievement
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