Africa came back empty-handed with Olympic champions Elaine Thompson-Herah and Karsten Warholm both named the World Athletes of the Year at the World Athletics Awards 2021.
Africans had three finalists –Kenyan duo of Eliud Kipchoge and Faith Kipyegon, as well as Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei.
Kipchoge successfully retained the men’s Olympic marathon title while, Kipyegon, 27, became the only third woman to retain her Olympic title.
Kipyegon won the 1500m race, barely a month after coming back from year-long maternity leave. Cheptegei, on the other hand, won the 5,000m and scooped silver in the 10,000m in Tokyo.
But despite having an impressive record throughout the year, none took home any honour at the event held virtually on Wednesday, January 1.
But the big day went to Jamaica and Norway.
Thompson-Herah produced one of the finest sprint seasons in history this year, retaining her Olympic 100m and 200m titles in Tokyo and adding a third gold medal in the 4x100m relay. On top of her Olympic triple, she also clocked world-leading times of 10.54 and 21.53 over 100m and 200m respectively, moving to second on the world all-time lists and coming within touching distance of the long-standing world records.
Warholm uncorked one of the most remarkable performances in athletics history when he stormed to gold in the 400m hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics. Having already broken the world record with 46.70 in Oslo in the lead-up to the Games, Warholm exceeded all expectations in the Japanese capital to claim gold in a stunning world record of 45.94. In a race of incredible depth, the top three athletes finished inside the pre-2021 world record.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe congratulated all of tonight’s winners and finalists on their extraordinary
Other big winners of the night included Athing Mu, the American of South Sudan origin scooped the Female Rising Star award while Erriyon Knighton took the opposite gender.
Mu was undefeated at 800m all year, winning Olympic gold at the distance following a long but successful collegiate season. She broke the senior US 800m record with her triumph in Tokyo and then improved it to 1:55.04 just a few weeks later. She also excelled at 400m, clocking a North American U20 record of 49.57 for the distance.
The inspirational award was shared by Qatari Mutaz Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy. The pair jointly won the high jump victory in what was one of the biggest talking points of the Olympic Games.
The President’s Award went to Peter Diamond, Executive Vice President of NBC Olympic programming while Bobby Kersee took the Coaching Achievement Award
The US coach has guided the careers of many legendary athletes over the years, but this year two of his charges made history. Allyson Felix became the most decorated female track and field Olympian in history after winning her 10th and 11th Olympic gold medals in Tokyo, while training partner Sydney McLaughlin broke two world records in the 400m hurdles and claimed Olympic gold in the discipline.
Anju Bobby George took the Woman of the Year Award. The former international long jump star from India is still actively involved in the sport. In 2016 she opened a training academy for young girls, which has already helped to produce a world U20 medallist. A constant voice for gender equality in her role as Senior Vice President of the Indian Athletics Federation, Bobby George also mentors schoolgirls for future leadership positions within the sport.