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Another thrower as Athlete of the Year

Published:Wednesday | October 7, 2015 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence, Contributor

It was headline news when Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia broke the 1,500-metre world record in Monaco with a super run of three minutes, 50.07 seconds.

When she took the gold medal in the 1,500m at the World Championships in Beijing, she became a prime candidate for the 2015 Athlete of the Year Award. However, she won't be the only candidate when the deliberations begin.

Some familiar names spring to mind. Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce lost just once in the 100 metres, clicked off the three fastest times of the year, 10.74, 10.76 and 10.79 seconds and swept to victory in Beijing. Allyson Felix also won in Beijing, crowning an undefeated season in the 400m with a personal best of 49.26 seconds.

Tianna Bartoletta, the Beijing long jump winner, might be under consideration, too, because she has impressive credentials. In Beijing, she produced the longest jump of the year - 7.14 metres - in the final to defeat a fine field.

Despite those accomplishments, Dibaba's prime rival for the Athlete of the Year Award is probably a hammer thrower. Anita Wlodarczyk, the blonde Pole who extended her own world record to 81.08 metres before the world's best congregated in Beijing. Sensationally, that was the first throw ever over 80 metres.


Strong throws

While Dibaba ran a tactical race at the World Championships, Wlodarczyk confirmed her record form with history's second and third throw over 80m with her winner taping out to 80.85 metres. She had another one measured at 80.27m.

Last year, New Zealander Valerie Adams became the first thrower to win the IAAF Athlete of the Year Award. Wlodarczyk could follow Adams into history this year. When one athlete has the three performances of all time and the world title in a single season, it's hard to ignore.

Some may feel that Wlodarczyk was a little unlucky last year. While Adams is a great champion, Wlodarczyk had a super 2014 season, including the European title and a world record of 79.58 metres. By contrast, Adams produced shorter putts than in previous seasons. In fact, the respected US publication, Track & Field News, named Wlodarczyk, and not Adams, as its female Athlete of the Year.

A slow return from surgery forced Adams to miss the World Championships and she isn't in contention for the Award this season.

Dibaba did brilliantly well as her record run dislodged a mark set in a dream 1993 campaign by Qu Yunxia of China. No one had come closer to Yunxia's miraculous run until Dibaba.

The Ethiopian and the Pole are the only women to set world records this year, but Dibaba did lose over 5000 metres. That reversal, a bronze medal finish at the World Championship, might tip the scales.

If it does, Wlodarczyk could be the second female thrower to be IAAF Athlete of the Year.

On the other hand, there probably won't be too many complaints if Dibaba wins. After all, she was super in 2015.

- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at track side since 1980.