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Bolt, SFP chase IAAF award history

Published:Friday | November 15, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ... in line for her first IAAF Athlete of the Year Award. file
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MONTE CARLO, Monaco:

1993.

That was the last time that athletes from the same country won both the male and female IAAF World Athlete of the Year (AOY) Awards. Back then, Great Britain's Colin Jackson and Sally Gunnell topped the world's best to the sport's top honour.

Before that, it had only been done once, in 1988 when American pair Carl Lewis and Florence Griffith-Joyner walked away with male and female athletes of the year awards.

This year, as track and field's luminaries gather in Monte Carlo, home of the IAAF's headquarters to celebrate another year of athletic accomplishments, Jamaican duo Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce may yet have some work for the historians.

The Jamaicans, having dominated their peers at this summer's IAAF World Championships in Athletics inside Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, are overwhelming favourites to take top honours at tomorrow's ceremony at the Salle des Etoiles.

While Fraser-Pryce will be hoping to secure her first AOY award, and in the process become the first Jamaican woman to receive the nod since Merlene Ottey in 1990, Bolt has already created history when he last year walked away with an unprecedented fourth AOY Award during the IAAF's centenary celebrations in Barcelona, Spain.

Bolt, who this year won gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at the World Championships and is also responsible for the fastest 200m (19.66) and 100m (9.77) among active athletes, was named the top male athlete in 2008 after his Beijing Olympics heroics, again in 2009 after the Berlin World Championships, as well as 2011 and 2012 after his performances at the Daegu World Championships and London Olympic Games.

However, it's not exactly an open and shut case for the big Jamaican this time around, with fellow finalists, Britain's Mo Farah and European athlete of the year Bohdan Bondarenko (Ukraine) expected to give the double sprint world record holder something to think about.

Farah, though missing the jaw-dropping times and marks that the other two finalists have produced, did leave Moscow with two gold medals - in the 5000m and 10,000m - and also recorded a European record 3:28.81 in the 1500m.

Meanwhile, Bondarenko, who pipped Farah to the European award, won the high jump title at the World Championships and posted a world record-threatening 2.41m - the highest clearance in almost 20 years. Bondarenko also won the Diamond race in the event.

Fraser-Pryce left the World Championships as the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay champion but did not stop there, taking the Diamond race in both sprint events. She also recorded the fastest time this season in the 100m and 200m with marks of 10.71 and 22.13.

She should get her biggest challenge from Czech hurdler Zuzana Hejnova, who was unbeaten this year, while winning both the world title and the Diamond race in the 400m hurdles.

New Zealand thrower Valerie Adams, the world shot put champion, is again in the mix, and comes to the party on the back of another dominating season where she won both the World and Diamond titles, while also going unbeaten this season.

- A.L.