By Mark Crellin
Sprinting superstar Usain Bolt has been named the IAAF male Athlete of the Year for an unprecedented sixth time.
And Ethiopian distance runner Almaz Ayana has won the female Athlete of the Year award, following her record-setting 10,000m win at the Rio Olympics.
Bolt was dominant in Rio as well, winning three golds [100m, 200m and 4x100m] for the third Games in a row.
He duly claimed the Athlete of the Year prize ahead of Britain’s Mo Farah, who claimed a historic Olympic double-double in the 5,000m and 10,000m, and South African Wayde van Niekerk, who set a new world record when he won the 400m in Rio.
Bolt previously claimed athlete of the year honours in in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
The 30-year-old Jamaican said: “It’s definitely a big deal.
“When you get to be athlete of the year, it means that all the hard work has paid off so, if I can win it for a sixth year, it means as much as the first one.”
IAAF president Sebastian Coe said of Bolt: “There’s been nobody since Muhammad Ali who’s got remotely near to what this guy has done in terms of grabbing the public imagination.
“He’s in no doubt at all about how the sport feels about him and certainly how I do as a president.”
Almaz claimed the title in the female category after smashing the 10,000m world record in Rio, clocking 29 minutes, 17.45 seconds and knocking more than 14 seconds from a record which had been set 23 years earlier.
She beat off competition from Elaine Thompson, who won golds in the 100 and 200m in Rio before helping Jamaica to a silver medal in the 4x100m relay, and Polish Olympic hammer champion and world record holder Anita Wlodarczyk.
Canada’s Rio 200m silver and 100m bronze medallist Andre De Grasse was named male rising star of the year, with Belgian Nafissatou Thiam, the heptathlon champion at the Games in Brazil, taking the women’s award.