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Barshim, Thiam named IAAF Athletes of the Year 

Monte Carlo (Monaco), Nov 25 (IANS) Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam were respectively named Male and Female Athlete of the Year here, while retired sprinting legend Usain Bolt of Jamaica received the IAAF President’s Award.

Twenty-six-year-old Barshim showed his consistency as he remained unbeaten in 11 competitions in 2017. He won at the World Championships with a jump of 2.35m on his first attempt, before clearing a world-leading 2.40m in Birmingham. He also claimed the IAAF Diamond League title in Zurich at 2.36m on Friday, reports Xinhua news agency. 

Barshim is the the first high jumper in history to leap 2.40m or higher in five successive years. He beat Britain’s long distance runner Mo Farah and South Africa’s 400m world champion Wayde van Niekerk for the award.

“This year everything was fine. I had no injuries, and could play confidently for the World Championships,” explained Barshim for his dominant performance throughout the year.

Thiam continued her step towards an athletics star. She was the recipient of last year’s Female Rising Star Award, and currently the Female Athlete of the Year.

The Belgian clinched the heptathlon champion at the worlds with a score of 6784 points. She overshadowed Ethiopian 10000m world champion Almaz Ayana and Greece’s Ekaterini Stefanidi, who tasted the pole vault gold at the World Championships.

“Just do in your own way, have fun and work hard to reach your goal,” Thiam shared her thoughts with young athletes.

Three months after retiring from track and field, Bolt added another glory to his eight Olympic gold medals and 11 world champions.

Although failing to retire with another world champion in London, the Jamaican sprinter won the President’s Award for his huge contributions to athletics.

Absent from the awarding ceremony, Bolt also motivated young talents to work hard in a video.

“With hard work and dedication, anything is possible. Track and field is going to be in great hands of young, and future generations will come up. All you guys need to remember hard work and dedication, keep on pushing no matter what will happen,” he said.

Also on Friday, 400m hurdles world champion Karsten Warholm of Norway was named Male Rising Star Award, while Female Rising Star Award belonged to Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela, triple jump winner in London.

Anna Botha, guiding Wayde van Neikerk to the 2017 world 400m title, won the Coaching Achievement Award. Cherry Alexander, who served as managing director for the IAAF World Championships London 2017, received the Women in Athletics Award that recognizes outstanding contributions made to develop, encourage and strengthen the participation of women and girls at all levels of the sport.

The inaugural edition of Athletics Photograph of the Year went to Paul Sanwell.

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