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World Athletics Awards: Anju Bobby George is Woman of the Year

Anju Bobby George

Bengaluru, December 2: Ace Indian long jumper Anju Bobby George was crowned Woman of the Year at the 2021 World Athletics Awards, a ceremony which was held virtually on Wednesday (December 1).

Accoring to a World Athletics statement, Anju's efforts in advancing the sport in India as well as inspiring more women to follow in her footsteps make her more than a worthy recipient of this year's award.

Anju, the only Indian to have won a medal in the World Championships is still very much actively involved in the sport.

In 2016 she opened a training academy for young girls, which has already helped to produce a world Under-20 medallist.

A constant voice for gender equality in her role as Senior Vice President of the Athletics Federation of India, Anju also mentors schoolgirls for future leadership positions within the sport.

The 44-year-old took to social media to express gratitude after being conferred with the World Athletics honour.

"Truly humbled and honoured to be awarded Woman of the Year by World Athletics. There is no better feeling than to wake up everyday and give back to the sport, allowing it to enable and empower young girls! Thank you for recognising my efforts," Anju tweeted.

Elaine, Karsten adjudged the best

Meanwhile, Olympic champions Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica and Karsten Warholm of Norway have been named the World Athletes of the Year.

Thompson-Herah produced one of the finest sprint seasons in history this year, retaining her Olympic 100M and 200M titles in Tokyo and adding a third gold medal in the 4x100m relay.

On top of her Olympic triple, she also clocked world-leading times of 10.54 and 21.53 over 100M and 200M respectively, moving to second on the world all-time lists and coming within touching distance of the long-standing world records.

Warholm uncorked one of the most remarkable performances in athletics history when he stormed to gold in the 400M hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics.

Having already broken the world record with 46.70 in Oslo in the lead-up to the Games, Warholm exceeded all expectations in the Japanese capital to claim gold in a stunning world record of 45.94. In a race of incredible depth, the top three athletes finished inside the pre-2021 world record.

Warholm over the moon

Warholm over the moon

"I'm so happy for this," said Warholm. "First when I saw the time (in Tokyo), I was like, 'This must be a mistake!' Because I didn't see that one coming. And I didn't see the victory coming before crossing the finish line.

"It was a very intense race, I knew the American and the Brazilian and all the other guys were really chasing me. I always go out hard and I never know what is going on behind me. I was just fighting all the way to the finish line. When I realised 45.94 was the reality, I was thinking: 'This is not too bad. I'll take it!'"

Elaine's new target

Elaine's new target

"I just take it year by year," said Thompson-Herah. "I went very close to the world record so you know, anything is possible. No spikes hanging up any time soon!

"The World Championships in Oregon is most definitely my next big target," she added. "It is close to home, I hope friends and family can come out and watch. I hope I get some crowd as well. That couldn't happen in Tokyo but hopefully in Eugene I can get my friends and family to come and cheer me on."

Shared glory

Shared glory

The shared high jump victory between Qatar's Mutaz Barshim and Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi became one of the biggest talking points of the Olympic Games - not only for everything it represented in their own individual careers, having both battled serious injuries since the last Games, but mainly for the act of respect and sportsmanship between two friends as the duo won the inspiration award.

"It is just crazy if I think about this story," said Tamberi. "Thank you very much for this trophy. "I now call Mutaz like five times a week because I need to speak with him. I feel that now we are not just friends, we are really like blood brothers."

Barshim added: "I hope to inspire more people to love our sport and maybe share a gold one day!"

Honours board

Honours board

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe congratulated all the winners and finalists on their extraordinary achievements this year.

FULL LIST OF AWARDS:

Male Athlete of the Year: Karsten Warholm

Female Athlete of the Year: Elaine Thompson-Herah

Woman of the Year: Anju Bobby George

Inspiring Award: Mutaz Barshim/Gianmarco Tamberi

Male Rising Star: Erriyon Knighton

Female Rising Star: Athing Mu

Coaching Achievement Award: Bobby Kersee

Member Federations Award: Costa Rica

President's Award: Peter Diamond, Executive Vice President of NBC Olympic programming

World Athletics Photograph of the Year: Ryan Pierse's photograph of the women's high jump qualifying at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

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Story first published: Thursday, December 2, 2021, 9:13 [IST]
Other articles published on Dec 2, 2021