, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 11 – David Rudisha and Vivian Cheruiyot missed out on the 2011 World Athletes of the Year awards at the glittering IAAF Gala held in Monaco on Saturday night.
Double world champion Cheruiyot was surprisingly beaten to the Female Athlete of the Year accolade and the Sh9.5 that comes with the trophy by Australian 100m hurdler and Daegu gold medallist, Sally Pearson.
The 28-year-old was however, honoured with the Female Performance of the Year for her 5000m and 10000m victories at the Daegu Worlds as consolation.
Jamaican sprint star, Usain Bolt was declared the Male Athlete of the Year for the third time in his career following successes in 2008 and 2009 as Rudisha, last year’s winner and another Jamaican Yohan Blake lost out.
Blake, the 21-year-old who won the 100m title in Daegu was nonetheless rewarded with the Male Performance of the Year for his impressive 19:26 run over 200m at the Memorial Van Damme meet in Belgium.
“This season was a really trying season for me, I really had to work hard and stand up my game,” said Bolt.
“There were some close races this season, I really had to push myself. So this (award) really means a whole lot to me. Because I really came out there hard this year, and all the hard work I put in paid off.”
It was in Daegu that Pearson, 25, produced the fourth fastest time in history, and the fastest in 19 years, for the women’s hurdles event which she dominated in a time of 12.21sec.
She becomes the first athlete from Oceania to be honoured as such by the IAAF since the awards were introduced in 1988.
Although Pearson won 10 of her 11 competitions and produced seven of the season’s quickest 11 performances she said she was surprised to win the award.
“It was just such an honour to be in the top ten this year,” said Pearson, who like Bolt was a World Youth champion in 2003.
“To be able to win this for my country and for my region Oceania means a lot and hopefully will inspire junior athletes to stay in athletics.
“It was a little surprising that I won,” added Pearson, who paid tribute to co-finalists Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya and New Zealand’s Valerie Adams.
“Vivian was a three-time World champion and Valerie just dominates every time she’s out there. She’s the role model athlete everyone should look up to.”
Both athletes were expected to pick up cheques for $100,000 on Saturday.
Other award winners at the ceremony included Blake, who was feted for his 19.26sec-run — the second fastest 200m performance in history — at the ‘Memorial van Damme’ Diamond League final in Brussels.
Cheruiyot also won a prize for her 5000/10,000m double gold haul at the Daegu championships, a feat achieved only once before, by Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia in the 2005 worlds.