Double Tokyo Olympics Games champion Sifan Hassan from the Netherlands has been crowned the 2021 European Woman Athlete of the Year at the Golden Tracks award ceremony that was held on Saturday (16) evening in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Hassan has been an outstanding performer this summer having won three medals that included the 5000m, 10,000m and 1500m bronze titles.
Hassan was crowned women’s European Athlete of the Year for the first time and she becomes just the second Dutch athlete to win this accolade after Dafne Schippers in 2014 and 2015.
Hassan – who was unfortunately not able to be present at the awards ceremony and Dutch federation President Eric van der Burg received her trophy on her behalf from European Athletics Vice President Cherry Alexander – won ahead of fellow Olympic champions Anita Wlodarczyk from Poland and Mariya Lasitskene, the latter being the 2019 European Athlete of the Year.
Hassan has also been in record-breaking form this season. She decimated Almaz Ayana’s world 10,000m record of 29:17.45 on home soil at the FBK Games in Hengelo in June with 29:06.82.
That mark was subsequently broken two days later on the same track by Letesenbet Gidey but Hassan outsprinted the Ethiopian for the Olympic 10,000m title, her sixth race in the Japanese capital after winning gold in the 5000m and then bronze in the 1500m.
It was a successful evening for Dutch athletics as European 400m hurdles record-holder Femke Bol was crowned women’s Rising Star.
Summary of Golden Tracks award winners
Women’s European Athlete of the Year – Sifan Hassan (NED)
Men’s European Athlete of the Year – Karsten Warholm (NOR)
Women’s Rising Star – Femke Bol (NED)
Men’s Rising Star – Sasha Zhoya (FRA)
European Athletics Community Award – Maria Andrejczyk (POL)
European Athletics Women’s Leadership Award – Ana Krstevska (MKD)
Member Federation Award – Georgina Drumm (IRL)
European Athletics Coaching Award – Hansruedi Kunz (SUI)
Triple Olympic medallist, Sifan Hassan threatened the world record again in the One Mile race that was held on Friday Night at the Allianz Memorial Van Damme in the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, Belgium.
The 28-year-old who had finally admitted that her body could no longer handle a 10,000m race at the moment, could not trouble her own world record of 4:12.33 set in Monaco in July 2019.
The Dutch National had two pacemakers and Wavelight technology to assist her in breaking the record but it seemed it wasn’t her good day in office but she went on to write more history to her name as she ran the fifth fastest time in history and smashing the Meet Record with a world leading time of 4:14.74.
This is the second race that Hassan has set the meet record this year.
Hassan said afterwards, “I’m really happy with the time. After Tokyo I was so tired so I just wanted to run the short distance. My goal was to run fast here tonight and that is what I did.
“I was not thinking about the world record although I knew I was on world record pace in the beginning. But in the middle, it slowed down a bit. It does not matter.
“I am not running any long distances anymore this year. In Zurich I will run the 1500m.”
Ethiopia’s Axumawit Embaye was a distant runner-up in 4:21.08 with Australia’s Linden Hall third in an Oceanian record of 4:21.38. Spain’s Olympic finalist Maria Perez was fourth, also in a lifetime best of 4:21.58.
Hassan has had a brilliant year when she smashed Almaz Ayana’s world record from Rio 2016 by over 10 seconds in Hengelo in June, but Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey went five seconds quicker on the same track in just two days later.
Triple Olympic medallist, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands had an incredible six races in eight days which yielded to two golds and a bronze in Tokyo; you would be forgiven for thinking she might need a break.
Hassan has had a brilliant year when she smashed Almaz Ayana’s world record from Rio 2016 by over 10 seconds in Hengelo in June, but Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey went five seconds quicker on the same track in just two days later.
The 28-year-old has finally admitted that her body can no longer handle a 10,000m race at the moment forcing her to focus on the One Mile race that will be held on Friday Night at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, Belgium.
The Dutch will be in familiar grounds as she broke the one-hour world record there 12 months ago and she is determined to break her own mile world record of 4:12.33 that she set set in Monaco in July 2019
World 800m record holder David Rudisha, four-time world champion Ezekiel Kemboi and Olympics 5,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot have been inducted into the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Hall of Fame.
The three athletes who have one thing in common besides their feats at both national and international, they are all Olympic gold medalists in their respective races.
This accolade was bestowed at the welcoming Dinner for athletes and officials participating at the 21st edition of the African Athletics Championships that is being held in Asaba, Nigeria.
According to Nigerian newspaper The Punch, out of the 16 inductees only two were in attendance – Nigerian Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor and Olusoji Fasuba.
The publicationcontinued saying that the event started five hours late, which forced athletes to stay away.
The Publication further reported that the Ethiopians and Kenyans did not attend as they arrived in Asaba late on Tuesday after being stranded in Lagos for two days.
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe, CAA President Kalkaba Malboum and members of his executive committee, State Governor Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, and top government officials at Federal and State level, diplomats and the LOC led by its Chairman Solomon Ogba graced the occasion.
Ethiopia inductees were led by world record holder and champion Genzebe Dibabaa, Almaz Ayana an Olympics and World Champions and long distance legend Kenenisa Bekele.
Other Ethiopians who were inducted are World Champion Tirunesh Dibaba and former world 5000m record holder Mesert Defar.
South Africa duo of Caster Semanya and Wayde van Niekerk both Olympics and World Champions were also inducted though Nieker is still is still recovering from a knee injury, which he sustained during a celebrity rugby match last year.
World governing body also announces updates on the Russian federation’s suspension and new anti-doping regulations.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has reinstated its transfer of allegiance process under new rules, with immediate effect, president Seb Coe announced on Friday.
The process had been frozen since last February, when Coe described the rules in force at that time as “no longer fit for purpose” and “open to abuse”.
The new rules include a number of key principles approved by the IAAF Council in March:
– a minimum three-year waiting period before an athlete may transfer to represent another member federation;
– establishment of a review panel to make determinations on the credibility of applications;
– the provision of evidence that countries are offering full citizenship and associated rights;
– the provision that an athlete can transfer only once; and
– that no transfers take place before the age of 20.
The world governing body added that, due to upcoming area championships, the transfer of allegiance review panel will endeavour to process those that have been held in the system as quickly as possible.
This includes the case of sprinter Leon Reid, who hopes to represent Ireland at the European Championships in Berlin, taking place from August 7-12.
The 24-year-old, who won Commonwealth 200m bronze for Northern Ireland in April, last represented Britain at the European U23 Championships in July 2015, when he claimed 200m silver.
“As you all probably know the last few years have been up and down trying to get any answers but finally, the IAAF have come to a decision about the pending transfers,” he wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.
After listing some of the conditions which he believes he meets, Reid added: “But this does not mean that my transfer is complete, it will be processed properly though the right channels and hopefully resolved in time for Europeans.”
According to the IAAF, athletes and member federations must now complete new paperwork and sign a declaration before their case is reviewed by the panel.
The transfer of allegiance update was announced during a briefing on the second day of the 214th IAAF Council Meeting in Buenos Aires, where topics including the Russian federation’s suspension and new anti-doping regulations were also discussed.
While the Council is said to have noted “significant progress” by the Russian federation in meeting the outstanding requirements for reinstatement, “and in some cases going above and beyond what was required”, it was decided that the Russian federation’s suspension will remain in force until the next Council meeting in December.
In his latest report, chair of the Russia Taskforce, Rune Andersen, detailed three main requirements still outstanding, including a payment of costs, acknowledgment of McLaren and Schmid Commissions findings and access to data. Further details on those requirements can be found here, while the full report is here.
While the Russian federation remains suspended, the IAAF Doping Review Board has been considering requests for Russians to compete in international competition as neutral athletes.
On Friday it was confirmed that 1500m runner Yegor Nikolayev and sprinter Aleksandr Skorobogatko have met the exceptional eligibility criteria to compete as neutrals. The IAAF said that a total of 74 Russian athletes have so far been declared eligible to compete as Authorised Neutral Athletes (ANA) in 2018, while 68 applications have been denied and five athletes have had their ANA status revoked.
Coe also announced that the IAAF Council has approved new regulations which detail the obligations of its member federations in the fight against doping.
Previously, the obligations under the anti-doping code were focused primarily on individuals rather than member federations. The Athletics Integrity Unit recommended the new regulations to the IAAF as a “crucial step” in protecting the integrity of the sport.
The IAAF will divide member federations into three categories “which will have different obligations based on their level of success in athletics and the risk of doping”.
The current watch list of four member federations – Kenya, Ethiopia, Belarus and Ukraine – will be folded into Category A, which will include those member federations considered “most at risk of doping”. The national team athletes from these federations will have to undergo at least three out-of-competition doping tests in the 10 months before a world championships or Olympic Games.
Category B will include the other federations who are competitive at international level, while Category C will include federations with very few international-level athletes.
Category A and B federations will be required to ensure athlete drug-testing plans are submitted to the IAAF before each world championships or Olympic Games.
Meanwhile, Coe confirmed that Budapest is the preferred European candidate city for the IAAF World Championships in 2023. A full technical, financial and risk evaluation will now be undertaken, with the results presented to the Council in December, when a final decision is set to be made.
The Council also received progress reports on the new world ranking system, which it intends to introduce next year; the re-structuring of the global calendar to allow clear periods for road racing and indoor and outdoor seasons, ending with the world championships; and plans to revamp the Diamond League which the Council agreed was vital to the sport remaining relevant to athletes and fans.
Commenting on the 214th IAAF Council Meeting, Coe said: “This has been a busy two days with a number of important decisions taken. However as always on these occasions we were also able to discuss some of the issues that cause concerns with athletes and fans.
“We discussed the need to address the issue of large numbers of athletes at the Diamond League wearing identical kit, which causes confusion for spectators and broadcasters. This has to change and a group has been set up to drive this change.
“We also discussed the need to amend and improve governance and control of athlete representatives to better protect and support athletes. We must hold athlete representatives to the same rigour and governance that we hold athletes and ourselves. The current regulations will be reviewed with new more centrally controlled regulations presented to the next Council meeting in December.”
World 800m record holder David Rudisha, four-time world champion Ezekiel Kemboi and Olympics 5,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot, will be inducted into the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Hall of Fame.
The three athletes have one thing in common besides their feats at both national and international, they are all Olympic gold medalists in their respective races.
This accolade will be bestowed at the welcoming Dinner for athletes and officials participating at the 21st African Athletics Championships, Asaba 2018.
The event, organised by CAA and Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency is slated for July 31, 2018 at the Event Center, Asaba.
Nigeria’s golden girl, Blessing Okagbare and her team members who won Nigeria’s 4×200 gold at the 2016 IAAF World Relay in Bahamas will be inducted into the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Hall of Fame.
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe, CAA President Kalkaba Malboum and members of his executive committee, State Governor Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, and top government officials at Federal and State level, diplomats and the LOC led by its Chairman Solomon Ogba will grace the occasion.
Ethiopia follows Nigeria with the highest number of athletes to be inducted. The list includes world record holder and champion Genzebe Dibabaa, Almaz Ayana an Olympics and World Champions and long distance legend Kenenisa Bekele.
Other Ethiopians on the list are, World Champion Tirunesh Dibaba and former world 5000m record holder Mesert Defar from Ethiopia will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
South Africa duo of Caster Semanya and Wayde van Nieckert both Olympics and World Champions will also be inducted.
World champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya and Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba will square off over 5000m at the Meeting International Mohammed VI D’Athletisme de Rabat, the ninth stop of the 2018 IAAF Diamond League, on 13 July.
Dibaba, the world record holder at 1500m and Olympic silver medallist over the distance, is also the fifth fastest of all-time at 5000m with a 14:15.41 personal best from 2015.
Obiri is the Olympic silver medallist and world champion at 5000m, whose 14:18.37 lifetime best, from 2017, ranks her eighth fastest of all time.
Their career paths have crossed twice over the distance, first at Rome’s Golden Gala Diamond League fixture last year, the race in which Obiri produced her lifetime best, taking the victory with Dibaba finishing a distant sixth. Dibaba returned the favour earlier this season, winning in Eugene in 14:26.89, with Obiri a well-beaten third, nearly ten seconds behind.
The meeting record?
That belongs to 2016 double Olympic Champion Almaz Ayana who clocked 14:16.31 in 2016, the sixth fastest performance of all-time.
Double world champion Yomif Kejelcha says the allure of a unique prize first offered to Haile Gebreselassie explains Ethiopia’s athletics ascent, not doping, despite complaints from a British athletics coach earlier this week.
Kejelcha and team-mate Genzebe Dibaba were each promised large plots of land in the capital Addis Ababa to incentivise them to win gold medals at the World Indoor Championships, which recently concluded in Birmingham.
However, Dibaba’s reputation within the sport has been blighted by the 2016 arrest of Jama Aden, her coach at the time and whose current whereabouts are unknown. The Somali was arrested following an investigation that culminated in the discovery of the performance-enhancing EPO.
Andy Young, the coach of Britain’s Laura Muir, said Dibaba’s association with Aden was “unhealthy” for the sport after watching his athlete settle for silver and bronze behind her controversial rival in the 1,500m and 3,000m.
After finishing seventh in the medal table at London’s World Athletics Championships last summer, Ethiopia placed a lofty second in Birmingham.
Speaking after winning the men’s 3,000m, Kejelcha told The Independent that his nation’s athletes are fuelled by the incentive of being given land bonuses by the government – not drugs.
Similar prizes were given to the legendary runner Gebrselassie when he put Ethiopia on the map by winning two Olympic gold medals across 10,000m and breaking the marathon world record.
“In previous years the government would give land to the athletes,” Kejelcha told The Independent. “This happened to Haile, but then stopped for several years.”
“Then last year [at the world championships in London] the government brought them back again.”
Mukhtar Edris was the first beneficiary – and Mo Farah the first victim. The British athlete was pipped to gold in the 5,000m, his final competitive track race, by Edris in a photo-finish also featuring Kejelcha.
Edris and women’s 5,000m champion Almaz Ayana both received 500 square metres of land to develop in Addis in the wake of their London success last summer. The city is overcrowded and Chinese construction firms are currently overseeing the most intensive urban development in Africa. Many Ethiopians have been displaced, some by force, to create space. Land is highly valued.
“The government should continue [with their policy] because what we do as athletes to raise the flag for Ethiopia is not easy,” said Kejelcha.
“We receive a lot of dollars for winning competitions but if our country gives us extra motivations we will win again and again and again.”
The return of land bonuses coincided with Gebrselassie’s appointment as president of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation.
The runner was the first Ethiopian athlete to receive a land bonus, after winning two Olympic gold medals and breaking 27 world records.
Gebrselassie has made more money from investments and business deals than he ever did as a runner and recognises the value of financial incentives to athletes who typically come from poor backgrounds, despite recent economic growth.
The introduction of the unusual bonus scheme won’t satisfy everyone as an explanation for Ethiopia’s success. Gebrselassie recognises there are temptations to take shortcuts in a country where EPO is readily available in pharmacies. Last year he told The Independent Ethiopia would introduce prison sentences for doping and at least one athlete has since been jailed.
“We now receive short seminars on doping,” Kejelcha adds. “Doping is killing our sport so we all have a responsibility to be educated and be clean. It is not just the Federation’s responsibility or the Government’s, it is up to the athletes and their managers.”
Dibaba told The Independent her success was attributable to a determined pursuit of sporting glory that runs through her family. Genzebe’s older sister Tirunesh is even more decorated, boasting three Olympic gold medals to her name. “We are concentrated only on our training, so we can make history,” the younger Dibaba said.
The Ethiopian Athletic Federation have told The Independent that Dibaba is no longer coached by the disgraced Jama Aden. Hussein Shibo and Tolera Dinka have been responsible for her training programme “since September 2017”. Dibaba has never failed a drugs test and there is no suggestion of wrong-doing.
Aden will remain a figure of interest nonetheless. Last year he was spotted at the Diamond League in Qatar, which will host the next World Championships in 2018.
Ethiopia’s final gold medalist in Birmingham was Samuel Tefera. The 18-year-old caused an upset by taking the title just 36 days after his first indoor race.
Tefera’s victory cemented unprecedented dominance over neighbours Kenya, who failed to collect a single gold medal and picked up just one bronze in total. Both countries enjoy high altitude conditions favourable for distance running.
“Kenya are a very strong nation over the longer distances,” said Tefera. “Ethiopia has overtaken Kenya and now we want to overtake every other nation too.”
The track retirement of Farah – currently training in Addis for the London Marathon – also helped Ethiopia’s cause in Birmingham. Only America finished ahead of them in the medal table.
Tefera added: “We are already planning how to build up our sprinters for the future.”
Who’s the world’s best man over 200m? Should be simple enough. Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev won the world title in London last year.
But, hold on, 10 people recorded faster times in 2017. One of them – Andre de Grasse – won silver behind Usain Bolt at Rio 2016, before a hamstring injury denied him a shot at the worlds. The Canadian, then?
But what about South African star Wayde van Niekerk who had two of the four fastest times of 2017? Or Yohan Blake who is still the second fastest of all time? Or perhaps American Christian Coleman, whose upward trajectory continues apace.
From April, the IAAF intends to sort such crowded scenes into an athletics world order.
What’s the change?
A new world ranking system – similar to those seen in tennis or golf – will provide a run-down of the best athletes in each event.
So in the same way that tennis’ tour organisers, through heavy-duty number crunching, define Roger Federer and Simona Halep as the best players in the world, the IAAF will rank their stars.
It won’t end the eternal bar-room debate, but it will attempt to provide an objective answer.
What rides on it?
Not just prestige. Qualification for IAAF events will move away from obtaining one-off qualifications times, distances and heights and instead be based on athletes’ position in the rankings.
No longer will it be possible to bank on an early-season high-altitude outlier performance as a ticket to the biggest championships.
Instead their five best performances over the previous 12 months, weighted on the profile and significance of the event where they were laid down, will be averaged out to form an athlete’s ranking.
With IAAF qualification as the lure, it is designed to produce consistently more competitive match-ups throughout the sport.
Where have the rankings come from?
They may be new to the IAAF, but the basis of the rankings has been around for decades.
The IAAF have bought up and brought in house a system used to create the previously independent and incredibly detailed All-Athletics rankings.
Essentially a family-run business inherited from his father by Hungarian Atilla Spiriev, the All-Athletics website took more than 9500 events into consideration in 2017 to decide the best of the best.
Such was the respect that they commanded in the sport that some athletes reportedly had their sponsorship deals tied to their All-Athletics ranking.
The IAAF even published the rankings themselves between 2000 and 2006, using them as a talking point for fans before the project fell out of favour with the organisation’s hierarchy.
After tweaking and fine-tuning the All-Athletics model to their own taste, the IAAF will soft-launch the rankings’ latest incarnation, before they come into full effect in September.
That will allow a full 12 months for the rankings to form the basis of qualification for next year’s World Championships in Doha.
World rankings v world records
Could the rankings do something perhaps more significant, though? Could it change the conversation around the sport – switching from historical benchmarks to present-day rivalries?
In May last year, European Athletics – the continental governing body – proposed a ‘year zero’ for world records, wiping out those set before 2005.
Svein Arne Hansen, the European Athletics president, explained that the cut-off date would help restore credibility to the sport as world records “are meaningless if people don’t really believe them”.
A ranking system fans buy into could shift the narrative away from troublesome other-worldy records to extraordinary on-track clashes.
The longest-standing world record on the books was set in Munich in July 1983 – nearly 35 years ago – when the Czech Republic and Slovakia where still one and 32-year-old national Jarmila Kratochvilova ran an eye-popping one minute 53.28 for the 800m.
For a measure, South Africa’s all-conquering Caster Semenya was nearly two seconds off that pace as she claimed gold in the event at London 2017.
Kratochvilova has denied that her extraordinary performance was assisted by the systematic doping regime that existed in her country at the time.
Paula Radcliffe’s 2003 marathon record would also fall foul of a 2005 cut-off designed to coincide with the introduction of storage of blood and urine samples for retrospective testing.
The Briton attacked the proposal as a “heavy-handed” and “cowardly” way to deal with some “really suspicious” records and the proposal seems to have been quietly ushered into the long grass.
How close have modern athletes got?
For athletics chiefs the problem remains though that some world records seem so far out of reach for today’s generation as to be all but irrelevant.
The graphic above shows how close another athlete has got to the current world-record holder over the last five years.
On the track, East German athlete Marita Koch’s 33-year-old 400m mark of 47.60 – also open to suspicion – is streets ahead of the 49.26 s run by American Allyson Felix in winning her world title in 2013.
While modern great Valerie Adams is almost two metres short of what Soviet shot-putter Natalya Lisovskaya achieved in 1987.
Beyond individual injustices, there are other reasons to be cautious about the ‘year zero’ proposal.
Not every seemingly indelible record has remained untouched in today’s era of more stringent doping controls for instance.
Most noticeably, Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana dropped jaws around the Olympic Stadium in Rio when she shattered the 10,000m world record set by China’s Wang Junxia in 1993 by a mammoth 14 seconds.
And seismic step-changes in what is possible are some of the sport’s most cherished moments.
Bob Beamon’s landmark long-jump leap of 8.90m at the 1968 Olympics was beyond the limit of the measuring equipment of the day.
“That’s not a time, it sounds like my dad’s birthday,” said rival Ato Bolden in disbelief after Michael Johnson’s 19.32-run took more than a third of a second off the 200m world record in 1996.
Jonathan Edwards, whose triple jump world record would be wiped by a pre-2005 purge, has also urged caution in presuming that improbable field world records are the product of cheating.
For him, the delicate alchemy behind his 1995 leap of 18.29 proved impossible to replicate despite apparently superior ingredients.
“I was actually faster and stronger after I set that world record in Gothenburg, “he told BBC Sport in July.
“But for whatever reason, I could not translate that into more distance. It is difficult to predict how technique and physique combine, perhaps more than in track events.”
The fear remains though that, short of a whitewash, athletics may never be rid of some marks that are more like suspicious stains on its history.