PARIS • World-record breakers Armand Duplantis of Sweden and Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas were on Saturday named the male and female World Athletes of the Year.
In a season to remember, not least for the coronavirus-hit scheduling that saw six Diamond League meets cancelled, Duplantis broke the indoor world record in the men’s pole vault twice.
The 21-year-old cleared 6.17m and 6.18m on back-to-back weekends in February, just weeks before the pandemic brought track and field to a grounding halt.
When competition finally resumed, he capped his season by producing the highest outdoor vault (6.15m) and finished the year undefeated in 16 competitions.
“It was a really strange season, for me and everybody, but I was able to put it together and get some pretty good results,” he said.
“When everything got shut down and things were pushed back to the end of the season, I was able to find some good form there as well which, for me, was more impressive than my indoor season because I’d had two months off.”
Rojas also hit form in the shortened season, breaking the South American indoor triple jump record in her first competition of the year, reaching 15.03m in Metz, France.
The 25-year-old then went on to leap 15.43m at February’s World Athletics Indoor Tour meet in Madrid, adding 7cm to the world indoor record.
“This victory means a lot to me and to all of those who work with me every day, everyone who gives me strength and motivation every day,” said Rojas.
“Being the best athlete of the year 2020 is going to be a great motivation for 2021, a very beautiful year in which I have many aspirations and expectations.”
The winners of the World Athletics annual awards are decided by the WA council, which represents 50 per cent of the votes, while the other 50 per cent of the votes are divided between the general public and the WA fraternity.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA