André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Yet again, the world's fastest man, Usain Bolt, is in the history books. And in his own words, his latest accomplishment ranks among his most treasured.
A man of many records, Jamaican sprinting icon Bolt created another first yesterday afternoon when he became the only four-time winner of the IAAF World Male Athlete of the Year (AOY) Award, at the IAAF Awards ceremony inside the Pullman Skipper Hotel in Barcelona, Spain.
Multi-talented American sprinter Allyson Felix was named World Female Athlete of the year, an auspicious coincidence, nine years after herself and Bolt made their first trip to the IAAF Awards ceremony in Monaco as bright-eyed recipients of the Rising Star Award.
In a big night for Jamaican athletics, Bolt's coach, Glen Mills, also walked away with the Coaching Lifetime Achievement Award.
Bolt, the world-record holder over 100m and 200m, scorched the competition at the London Olympic Games to become the first man to successfully defend 100m and 200m Olympic titles, before leading Jamaica to a world-record blitz in the 4x100m relay.
Bolt also helped himself to the Samsung Diamond League 100m title as another spellbound season of 'Bolt-mania' came to a close.
Bolt told The Sunday Gleaner during a one-on-one interview shortly after the ceremony that this award is the one that really matters to him.
"This is the biggest one. The first one was great, but having defended my titles and doing so much this season is such a wonderful feeling and it ranks number one without a doubt," said Bolt, comparing his latest coup to the other three AOY awards.
"I definitely feel good to be awarded for the fourth time, especially coming from the IAAF because it's from the athletes and so on, so for me it's an honour and it's bigger than any other award you can get," Bolt said.
He noted that he never doubted topping the award, despite the seemingly tough decision between himself and Olympic champions and world record holders Aries Merritt (110m hurdles) and David Rudisha (800m).
"It was a tough field definitely, but I wasn't too surprised. I worked hard this season, did a lot and proved to the world that I am still the best, so I am not surprised," Bolt said, adding that he hopes to keep the streak going until he retires.
Felix was also elated, expressing gratitude for her first award, which follows a triple gold medal performance at the London Olympics (200m, 4x100m and 4x400m).
"I am extremely grateful, my heart is filled with gratitude and I'd like to thank you for this huge award," Felix said.
It was a Caribbean sweep in the World Rising Star Award category, with Olympic javelin champion Keshorn Walcott from Trinidad and Tobago and The Bahamas' Anthonique Strachan, the World Junior Championships double sprint champion, taking the male and female prizes, respectively.
Rudisha won the Male Performance of the Year award for his 1:40.97 world record run at the Olympics, while the world record-breaking USA women's 4x100m team won the female equivalent.
Merritt won the Inspirational Award, while Lyn Ventris and Robert Lida were the female and male World Masters Athletes of the Year awardees.