On Friday, October 24, Monaco hosted one of the most anticipated sports events of the year – the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) Athletics Awards. According to the classical traditions of the principality, the award ceremony for the best sportsmen in the world was held in the Grimaldi Forum, bringing together the top athletes in order to find out the names of the prize winners. Prince Albert II opened the ceremony with a magnificent speech.
“We are gathered today to honor the best athletes of 2017. They serve as role models and inspire younger generations to achieve future accomplishments. Sport is building bridges between people and societies! And most importantly, it brings peace!”
After such inspirational words, Sebastian Coe, president of the IAAF association, resumed the podium and gave the results for the close of 2017.
“This year was phenomenal! Sport is getting stronger because of the athletes. Competitions, battles and outstanding records, set in 2017, demonstrate the fact that the worldwide popularity of athletics is growing. About 4000 athletes representing more than 200 countries took part in the IAAF championships in Kampala, the Bahamas, Nairobi and London. The World Cup in London was the most international sporting event, as representatives of 40 countries won medals and 60 countries took the first 8 places. There was a clear recognition of the connection between athletes and fans. I am very proud of our journey, which we have carried out since March in Kampala. The Kampala World Cross Country Championships was the first time that Uganda had hosted an IAAF World Championship event.
Our sport is stronger due to the reforms that we implemented this year, in particular, the creation of the Athletics Integrity Unit. This evening we honor our star sportsmen. This award sums up the hard work, dedication and passion of the athletes”.
The first “President’s award” was given to Jamaican super-champion for short-distance running Usain Bolt, who, unfortunately, couldn’t attend the ceremony. Nevertheless, the athlete’s speech was broadcasted on the screens during the event.
“It is a great honor for me to accept this award. It demonstrates to young generations that hard work and devotion always win! “
Then everyone was impatient to find out the names of the winners of the “Rising Star of the year” award in the categories “male” and “female”. Karsten Warholm–the 21-year-old Norwegian runner was the winner of the award. The athlete’s greatest achievement was accomplished at the IAAF World Championships in London, where he became the youngest world champion of the tournament. In turn, the 22-year-old Venezuelan jumper Yulimar Rojas, who was in the top three nominees with Julia Levchenko and Salwa Aid Naser, became the female winner.
Seventy-five years old Anna Botha, who has more than 50 years of coaching experience, has won the “Coaching Achievement” award. According to her, being a female trainer is very challenging, but the main thing is to love what you are doing and put maximum enthusiasm into it.
Cherry Alexander was named “Woman in the Athletic Awards” although, apparently, she did not expect to be recognised. For more than 30 years, Cherry has helped to organize the main sporting events in Britain. Also, she was the managing director of the IAAF 2017 World Championships in London.
Another important moment was the award of “Photograph of the year”. Paul Sanwell had taken a black and white photo that expressed the movement and speed of athletes in the 100-meters at the World Championships in London.
Imperceptibly the culmination of the evening arrived. At stake, “Athlete 2017” by IAAF in both categories “female” and “male.” Prince Albert II awarded the laureate of “Female Athlete of the Year” to the Belgian athlete Nafissatou Thiam, who won the championship, the other finalists being Almaz Ayana and Ekaterini Stefanidi. Named “Male Athlete of the Year” was Qatar high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim, who edged out Mo Farah and Wayde van Niekerk for the award.
The IAAF 2017 awards ceremony has been yet again such an exciting and emotional event. The strongest and most dedicated were deservedly rewarded for their efforts and records in IAAF athletics. Let’s hope that next year will also be filled with new faces, incredible achievements and as always a passion for sports!