MONTE CARLO, November 23 – Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt and Jamaican-born United States 400 metres runner Sanya Richards were named athletes of the year here on Sunday.Bolt, 23, wooed the crowds again this year at the world athletics championships in Berlin when he took the 100 and 200 metres individual titles in world record times and also for good measure was part of the Jamaican 4×100 metres winning team.
Those titles were added to the Olympic triple he won in Beijing last year and came off the back of him starting his season with a car accident.
"It’s been an amazing season, but also a trying season," said Bolt, who broke his own world records with stunning 9.58 and 19.19 second performances at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium.
"To be named athlete of the year is such a great honour, it shows that all the work we put in pays off."
While Bolt knew the thrill of winning major titles already for 24-year-old Richards it was a virginal experience as the graceful and attractive naturalised-American had flattered to deceive in Beijing where she ended ith only a minor medal in the individual event.
However, she was majestic in Berlin putting Great Britain’s Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu in her place as she won the title and then added a second gold in the 4×400 metres relay.
"I was asked if this feeling would be the same as being world champion and it really is," said Richards, who had previously been named World Athlete of the Year in 2006.
"Considering the other athletes I was up against this year, I know this must have been a really tough decision."
Richards can be thankful for even having the chance to compete after contracting the rare Behcet’s disease in 2007 and developing mouth ulcers which at times made it too painful to eat and lesions on her legs which felt like hot irons pressing on her skin.