AOY double? Excellent duo could give Jamaica reprieve
In a world where bad news is big news, Jamaica has been battered in 2013. Thankfully, a reprieve might be on the cards when the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) names its Male and Female Athlete of the Year on November 16.
Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, the sprint heroes of the Moscow World Championships, could both emerge on top after dominating seasons.
The tall man lost just once in a campaign where he set world-leading times to win the Worlds.
Fraser-Pryce had a 100-metre season so good that it might have earned Athlete of the Year (AOY) consideration on its own.
Bolt and fellow world champions Mo Farah and Bogdan Bondarenko contend for the men's award, while Fraser-Pryce, Valerie Adams and Zuzana Hejnova are the last women standing.
Believe it or not, the little lady has an even stronger chance to win than Bolt does. Except for Florence Griffith-Joyner's surreal 1988 summer, Fraser-Pryce has just had the most consistently good 100 season ever. She lost just once and her times dotted the 10.7 zone. Not only did she win big in Moscow, but she also won the Diamond League.
Her rivals, Adams and Hejnova, were both undefeated in the shot and the 400 hurdles, respectively, but I reckon they will both be outstripped by the quality of Fraser-Pryce's running in the 100.
The Jamaican dipped under 10.80 three times and won the World Champion-ships in 10.71 seconds. That's worth 12.63 on the IAAF performance tables. Hejnova and Adams got 12.43 and 12.31 points, respectively, for their season's bests.
The Jamaican wasn't quite as good in the 200 and never reached the 22-second barrier. Nevertheless, she won both the World Championships and the Diamond League. That combination should easily clinch the Female AOY title.
Quality will draw the lines that will separate Bolt, Bondarenko and Farah.
Bondarenko, a lanky Ukrainian, twice high-jumped over 2.40 metres in a season where he was well nigh invincible. His best - 2.41 in both Lausanne and Moscow - is the highest since 1996.
His 2.40 is so good that only Javier Sotomayor and Patrik Sjoberg have ever gone higher.
Bolt and Farah both did double duty in Moscow, but while the Jamaican set the fastest times in the world in the 100 and 200, Farah didn't tax the timekeepers too much in the 5000 and 10,000.
In fact, even though he dominated at the World Cham-pionships, his times in those events put him in the 2013 top 20 only in the longer race at number 20. He did have a brilliant 1500 behind Asbel Kiprop, setting a European record of three minutes, 28.81 seconds. Aside from that, he really doesn't have the consistent seasonal quality to win.
That leaves Bolt and Bondarenko.
Scored on the IAAF Performance tables, Bolt's Moscow winning 100 time of 9.77 seconds brings in more points than the Ukrainian's 2.41. The actual point numbers are 1287 to 1269. If logic prevails, that might be it.
Bolt's 19.66 earns 1274 points from the tables.
NOT CUT AND DRIED
However, awards aren't always so cut and dried. Last year, that wonderful American Allyson Felix won the women's AOY award.
Fraser-Pryce had better overall results than Felix, but was cut at the preliminary round of selection.
Mo is one of the sport's most recognisable stars and, like Bolt, he did doubles in last year's Olympics and this year's Worlds. Like Bolt, he's more than just a runner. He charms fans with his easy smile, the trademark 'Mobot' victory salute and his popular mastery over the Kenyans and Ethiopians. Perhaps that will help his bid to be Athlete of the Year.
It really shouldn't. The award should rest on performance. Like Farah, Bolt and Bondarenko won in Moscow, but the latter two also excelled throughout 2013. If performance is the metre rule, Bolt could have a slight edge over the high jumper.
If Bolt and Fraser-Pryce win, it will be the first time Jamaica has done this double and the first time any country has done it since 1988, when Americans Carl Lewis and Griffith-Joyner were on top.
Hopefully, it will buy us a break from the bombardment.
Hubert Lawrence has made notes from trackside since 1980.