The Kenyan 800m runner David Rudisha and Croatian high jumper Blanka Vlasic have won the IAAF World Athlete of the Year awards. The 21-year-old Rudisha became the youngest athlete ever to win the award and succeeded Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt yesterday after breaking Wilson Kipketer's 13-year-old world record twice within eight days in August.
Bolt missed the latter part of the season because of tightness in his lower back and was not nominated.
Rudisha clocked 1 minute 41.01 seconds in the two-lap race in August, shaving 0.08 seconds off the mark he set in Berlin the week before. "I knew when I broke the record there was a possibility I would be rewarded with this award and it's now a dream come true," Rudisha said. The Dane Kipketer set the old record of 1:41.11 in 1997.
Vlasic won the world indoor championships and was also crowned European champion high jumper this year. She won 18 out of 20 competitions in 2010 and posted a season's best of 2.05m.
Rudisha and Vlasic each defeated four other candidates on shortlists voted for by nearly 1,800 athletes, officials and journalists. Both will receive $100,000, despite the IAAF considering this week whether to cancel the bonuses because of its ongoing financial problems.
"I can guarantee they will receive their cheques," said IAAF president Lamine Diack.