Kenya’s world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge and Colombian jumper Caterina Ibarguen have been named the 2018 IAAF male and female athletes of the Year respectively.
The two were decorated at a ceremony here a short while ago with Prince Albert of Monaco in attendance.
“I was happy not only to break the world record, but to run two hours and one minute,” Kipchoge said.
“I have internalised it now and accepted,” he joked.
Pole vaulter Armand Duplantis beat Kenya’s Rhonex Kipruto to the rising star award while American hurdler Sydney McLaughlin was the best rising female athlete.
“I’d like to thank my parents. They are where I started. I think I can jump higher than you,” Duplantis told event host, France’s world pole vault champion Renaud Lavillenie.
American Joe Vigil was named Coach of the Year while Mexican Evelyn Lopez was picked as the 2018 Woman of the Year for her contribution to the sport.
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Seb Coe celebrated the 10 world records this season as highlighting the 2018 global athletics calendar.
“The only reason we are here is because of you, athletes. The rest of it is project management. We thank you for a jaw-dropping season,” he said.
Speaking at the Gala, Prince Albert of Monaco said the International Athletics Foundation, of which he is honorary chairman, had spent over $34 million (Sh3.4 billion) in athletics development support and pledged further assistance.
The main categories at the 7.15pm black tie black tie/ cocktail dress reception were the male and female athlete of the year, rising star in the male and female categories along with coach of the year.
Kipchoge’s main competitors were French decathlete Kevin Mayer and American sprinter Christian Coleman.
This year, Coleman, 22, shattered the world indoor 60 metres record and was Diamond League champion over 100m, while 26-year-old world champion Mayer won the world indoor title in the heptathlon and shattered the decathlon world record, improving from American Ashton Eaton’s previous mark with a new high of 9,126 points.
The other nominees were Swedish European champion pole vaulter Armand Duplantis and Qatar’s hurdler Abderrahman Samba.
Kipchoge’s dominance in the marathon, winning all but one of his 11 career marathons, and all in under 2:06 (except at the Rio Olympics, a championships race where he clocked 2:08:44), hoist him to legend status.
Even his only “blot”, a 2:04:05 second place at the 2013 Berlin Marathon, was because Wilson Kipsang ran a world record 2:03:23 that year!
In the women’s awards Colombian jumper Ibarguen beat Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech to the Female Athlete of the Year title, a result largely expected.
Chepkoech improved the world steeplechase record by eight seconds, running 8:44:32 right here in Monaco at the Herculis Diamond League meeting on July 20, and winning seven out of her eight steeplechase races this season, besides a Commonwealth Games 1,500m silver.
“I was excited to compete in Monaco and I’m excited to be here because it’s here that I broke my world record,” Chepkoech said.
The Colombian jumper Ibarguen is an IAAF Continental Cup winner, Diamond League champion and double champion in the long jump and triple jump in Central America and the Caribbean.
She was unbeaten in the triple jump and most memorably won back-to-back long jump and triple jump titles at the Zurich and Brussels Diamond League meetings in September, within a 24-hour period.
No South American – male or female – has won the athlete of the year award in its 30-year existence.
Male rising star: Armand Duplantis (Sweden)
Female rising star: Sydney McLaughlin (USA)
Coach of the year: Dr Joe Vigil (USA)
Woman of the year: Evelyn Lopez (Mexico)
Male athlete of the year: Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya)
Female athlete of the year: Caterina Ibarguen (Colombia)