By Juventud Rebelde, Cuba
(23 November 2010) – Kenyan sprinter David Rudisha, world record holder in the 800 meters, and Croat Blanka Vlasic, world champion in the high jump, were named male and female athletes of the year on Sunday by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
Rudisha, 21, broke the longstanding 800 metres world record twice this season (1:41.09 and 1:41.01) while 27-year-old Vlasic won both the European outdoors and world indoors titles.
Rudisha is the youngest athlete and first Kenyan ever to win the prestigious award having first broken the record in Berlin on August 22 with a time of 1 minute 41.09 seconds before bettering that mark with 1:41.01 in Rieti, Italy, a week later.
Also nominated for the award were Eritrean half-marathon world-record holder Zersenay Tadesse, American sprinter Tyson Gay, who lifted the accolade in 2007, US 110 metres hurdler David Oliver and Norwegian javelin thrower Andreas Thorkildsen. He was also crowned African champion in July in Nairobi and was unbeaten in his 16 races during the outdoor campaign.
Blanka Vlasic, who was also nominated in 2007 and 2009, becomes only the third high jumper in the 23-year history of the Gala to lift the award, following German Heike Henkel and Hestrie Cloete of South Africa.
Vlasic won the world indoor championships and was also crowned European champion this year. She won 18 out of 20 competitions in 2010 and posted a season best of 2.05 metres. The 27-year-old was up against sprinters Allyson Felix of the US and Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown, Commonwealth Games 3,000 metres steeplechase winner Milcah Chemos of Kenya and British heptathlete Jessica Ennis.
Felix has won the last three world titles over 200 metres while Campbell-Brown has lifted the last two Olympic Games crowns and also took 100 metres gold at the 2007 worlds in Osaka. World 400 metres champion Sanya Richards of the US claimed the 2009 award.
David Rudisha succeeds Jamaica’s 100 and 200m world record holder Usain Bolt (2008 and 2009 Male Athlete of the Year while Blanka Vlasic succeeds United States 400m world outdoors champion Sanya Richards.
Cuban Trainer Santiago Antúnez was also awarded during the World Athletics Gala in Monaco as best trainer of the year.
Usain Bolt a Soccer Player?
Jamaican sensation Usain Bolt said on Sunday that he would like to try his hand at professional football when he retires from athletics, and dreams of playing for Manchester United.
Bolt told French television station Canal+, “Playing with Rooney and his teammates would be an honor for me. When I met them for the first time, I was very honoured. The surprise was that they knew who I was. It was magnificent for me. Magnificent.”
“I’ll stop athletics at the age of 30. If I could have the chance to play for a team, even for one of the smallest teams in the English Premier League or a lower division, just to see if I can do it.
The world record holder at 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay says he fancies himself as a midfield player or as a striker, but says people say he should play as a winger because of his lightning pace.