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Amazing awards season begins

Published:Thursday | November 15, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (right) powers ahead to win gold in the women's 100-metre final at the London Olympic Games on Saturday, August 4. Allyson Felix (left) placed fifth. - AP

Hubert Lawrence, Gleaner Writer

Sports awards never fail to amaze. Routinely, those who make the awards gloss over important considerations and come to wayward conclusions. The latest miss comes with the exclusion of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce from the top three in the IAAF World Athlete of the Year polls.

Valerie Adams, Jessica Ennis and Allyson Felix, all Olympic champions, advanced to the final three with the little Jamaican cast aside with super sprint hurdler Sally Pearson of Australia. Adams, Ennis and Felix were all wonderful in 2012, but did they all outperform Shelly-Ann? A closer look suggests not.

It's hard to compare athletes in different events, but since the slim American competed in the 100m and 200m this past season, we can weigh the relative merits of Felix and Fraser-Pryce this time. Both won Olympic titles, the former in the 200m and the latter in the 100m. Both reached new levels in their prime event, Allyson with a fine run of 21.69 seconds to win the 200 at the US Trials and Shelly zipped 10.70 to take the 100m at the Jamaica Trials.

Those times moved them both to number four all time in the 200m and 100m, respectively.

When the number crunchers are done, this frightfully fast pair will probably be ranked number one in the 200m and the 100m, respectively.

The affable American may have a slight edge thus far because she won all her races over the curved sprint, while Shelly-Ann lost a few in the 100m.

Best female sprinter

That isn't the whole picture. Shelly beat Allyson, first to fifth, in the Olympic 100m final and ran away from the slow-starting American in New York and Zurich. By contrast, she was much closer to Allyson, second to first, in the Olympic 200m final. Based on the combined 100/200 results, Shelly was the best female sprinter at the Olympics.

That should have been as easy as abc.

Maybe the IAAF poll took relay running into consideration. That's something most track and field pundits seldom do because one person can't do a relay on their own. If that's what happened, the elimination of the Jamaican is understandable. Felix ran brilliantly for the USA on both the 4x100m AND 4x400m, but she didn't do it on her own.

If there's any consolation, it's the treatment by the polls of American Ashton Eaton. All he did was set world records in the heptathlon and decathlon at the World Indoor Championships and the US Trials, respectively, and win Olympic gold. Somehow, he isn't in the top three.

Usain Bolt, the only sprinter with better 2012 Olympic results than Shelly-Ann, is among the three who remain for the final round of polling for the IAAF Men's Athlete of the Year Award.

Bolt, David Rudisha and Aries Merritt all won in the Olympics and all three lost at different points in the season. Among them, only Bolt won two individual golds in London, but Rudisha and Merritt set world records.

Merritt set a super mark of 12.80 seconds to cap a 110-metre hurdles season where he set new standards of consistency.

Overbalancing that was Rudisha breaking the 1.41 barrier to win the Olympics in the historic time of one minute 40.91 seconds.

Another gem

The leggy Kenyan summoned sub-1.42 clockings in New York and Paris, 1.41.74 and 1.41.54 to be exact, and in Nairobi's lung- bursting high altitude, he produced another gem. That was an amazing time of one minute 42.12 second to win the Kenyan Trials.

Bolt was no slouch. He stepped to the second-fastest time ever in the 100m - 9.63 seconds - to win the Olympics. In the 200m, he equalled the fourth-fastest time - Michael Johnson's former world record of 19.32 seconds - to complete a unique repeat double.

Figure that one out. It's worth a good think.

The Felix-Fraser-Pryce case isn't so tough. The pocket rocket had a better overall season than the elegant American and should be in the IAAF World Athlete of the Year top three. It's as easy as abc.

Hubert Lawrence has covered sport since 1987.