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Bolt, Isinbayeva named Athletes of the Year

23 November 2008

Olympic champions Usain Bolt of Jamaica and Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia were named 2008 World Athletes of the Year at the World Athletics Gala on Sunday.


Bolt, 22, captured three gold medals at the Olympic Games in Beijing in August, sweeping the 100 and 200 meters and running the third leg on the victorious 4x100m relay.

His run of 9.69 seconds in the 100 and 19.30 in the 200 were world records, as was the 37.10 performance by the Jamaican relay squad.


"I have a motto that anything is possible, but this really is such an honor," said Bolt, who became Jamaica's first Olympic 100 meters champion.


"Just to be included with every great name in the sport is wonderful. I'll try to do it year after year."


Isinbayeva, 26, raised her own world record in the pole vault three times, first to 5.03 meters in Rome and 5.04 in Monaco in June, and again to 5.05 when she successfully defended her Olympic title in Beijing.


It was the second consecutive Olympic Games in which Isinbayeva set a world record.


"I'm very proud. It feels like the first time," said Isinbayeva, who took athlete of the year honors in 2004 and 2005.


While Bolt was an overwhelming favourite for the sport's top annual prize, Isinbayeva just edged out Ethiopian distance runner Tirunesh Dibaba, who produced an unprecedented Olympic double victory in the 5000 and 10,000 meters in Beijing.


Dibaba, along with Czech Olympic javelin champion Barbora Spotakova, instead shared the award for performance of the year. Spotakova broke the javelin world record with a 72.28 meters throw at the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart in September.


Olympic 110 meters hurdles champion Dayron Robles of Cuba, who broke the world record in his event with a 12.87 seconds run in June, won the men's performance of the year award.


Kenyan teenager Pamela Jelimo, who rose from obscurity to finish the season unbeaten in the 800 metres, won the Revelation of the Year award. Jelimo, who captured Olympic gold and the $1 million IAAF Jackpot, only took up the event last April.


Bolt and Isinbayeva each received $100,000.

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