, MONACO, Nov 21 – Kenyan running sensation David Rudisha and Croatian high jump star Blanka Vlasic were named male and female athletes of the year respectively here on Sunday by the sport\’s governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
Rudisha, 21, broke the longstanding 800 metres world record twice this season while 27-year-old Vlasic won both the European outdoors and world indoors titles.
Rudisha is the youngest athlete 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.
His time in the Berlin meet had shaved two hundredths of a second off the previous best mark set by Denmark\’s Kenyan-born Wilson Kipketer in August 1997.
He was also crowned African champion in July in Nairobi and was unbeaten in his 16 races during the outdoor campaign.
"To be named athlete of the year is obviously a magnificent reward," said Rudisha.
"One can dream about it but when one breaks a world record twice in a week, one can imagine that there is a good chance of winning the trophy.
"But it still remains an honour."
Vlasic, who saw off American 200 and 400m star Alysson Felix for the award, said that the crown would boost her confidence.
"For several years, I knew this trophy was a possibility, I knew that I had the potential," said Vlasic, who had six of the best 10 jumps during the season.
"But to finally have it will give me a huge amount of confidence. I am not only number one of the high jumpers but also of all female athletes."
The duo also receive a cheque for 100,000 dollars (73,000 euros) and succeed Jamaica\’s 100 and 200m world record holder Usain Bolt and the United States 400m world outdoors champion Sanya Richards as athletes of the year.
David Lekuta Rudisha
Birthdate: December 17 1988
Birthplace: Kilgoris (Kenya)
World record: 1:41.01 (800 metres – August 29 2010 in Rieti/ITA)
Semi-finalist 2009 world championships
World junior champion 2006