Anthony Foster, Gleaner Writer
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia hold their IAAF 'Athlete of the Year awards', yesterday, in Monaco. Bolt holds the Olympic and world records for the 100 metres, 200 metres and the 4x100 metres relay, all set at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and Isinbayeva set a world record to defend her Olympic pole vault title, the 24th world record of her career and fourth of the year. - AP
Jamaica's triple Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt, was, as widely expected, named the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) Male Athlete of the Year in Monte Carlo, Monaco, last night.
Bolt, who collected The Gleaner's Man of the Year award earlier this month, had the best season, by far, among the finalists for the IAAF award, after winning Olympic gold medals in the 100 metres (9.69), 200 metres (19.30) and helping Jamaica to the 4x100m title, all in world record times.
Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, who leapt 5.05m, a world record, the 24th of her career and fourth this season, took the female award.
The lanky Jamaican had a broad smile as he walked onstage at the Salle des Etoiles of the Sporting Club d'Ete, Monte Carlo, to collect his award from IAAF President Lamine Diack.
"This is nice"
Watched by his parents, Wellesly and Jennifer Bolt, and brother Sadeeki, and entertained briefly by Jamaica's Fab 5 band, which performed Once in a lifetime, Bolt told the audience "this is nice".
"This is just an honour ... to be named Athlete of the Year," said the 2002 Rising Star of the Year winner.
"I have done a lot this year and over the past years," added Bolt, who thanked his family and coach, Glen Mills, for his impressive season.
He also had a few words of advice for his rivals, telling them that they need dedication, focus and patience to reach the levels which he has achieved.
Bolt is the third Jamaican to win an IAAF Athlete of the Year title. Merlene Ottey (1990) and Asafa Powell (2006) won the respective female and male titles. Another Caribbean athlete, Cuba's Ana Fidelia Quirot, took the award in 1989.
In accepting the award, Bolt, wearing a tuxedo and bow tie, said he was proud to be placed among the top athletes from the region.
"I am honoured to be among those great athletes who have won this award, and I will try to win it year after year," said Bolt, who added that he would spend a part of his US$100,000 prize on video games.
It was Yelena Isinbayeva's third title, but she said: "Maybe this one has more value than the others I won in 2004 and 2005."
The Male Performance of the Year award went to Cuba's Olympic 110m hurdles champion, Dayron Robles, who clocked 12.87 to set a world record in June, in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Long-distance runner Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia and Czech Republic's Barbora Spotakova, who set world records in the 3000m (14.11.15) and javelin (72.28m), respectively, were joint winners of the Female Performance of the Year award.
Pamela Jelimo of Kenya took the Revelation of the Year award while Henry Rono, also of Kenya, won the Inspirational award.
Swedish athletes, high jumpers Kajsa Bergqvist and Stefan Holm, along with race walker Jefferson Perez of Ecuador, were given the Distinguished Career awards.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee of United States was given a special award as part of the IAAF's weekend of celebrating 80 years of female athletes at the Olympics.
Special Olympic awards were handed out to Bolt, Dibaba, Isinbayeva, triple jumper Francoise Mbango of Cameroon, 400m hurdler American Angelo Taylor and javelin thrower Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway.