Men’s decathlon world record holder Ashton Eaton of the United States and women’s 1,500-meter world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia have been named the IAAF Athlete of the Year award winners, the IAAF announced in a press conference on Thursday in Monaco.
“Athletes spend the most vigorous years of human life, arguably called the ‘best years’, working to hone their abilities,” Eaton said in a press release. “So, when an athlete competes, what people are witnessing is the manifestation of what a human being is capable of when they choose to direct all of their time and effort towards something.”
Eaton improved upon his own decathlon world record by six points at this summer’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing, when he ran a world record 45.00 for the 400-meter dash within the decathlon. He finished with a final score of 9045 after a strong run in the 1,500-meter run to close out the 10 events of competition.
Eaton is the first American man to win the award since sprinter Tyson Gay won in 2007. Eaton is the eighth American man to win since the award’s first year in 1988 and the first decathlete to win the honors.
Dibaba opened the year by running a world record of 14:18.86 for 5,000-meters indoors in Stockholm. In July, Dibaba raised eyebrows with her solo 3:54.11 1,500-meter run in Barcelona and set a new world record of 3:50.07 at the Monaco Diamond League meeting just one week later. Dibaba’s time broke a 22-year-old world record of 3:50.46 by Qu Yunxia of China set in Sept. 1993.
Dibaba also ran 14:15.41 at the Paris Diamond League Meeting on July 4, just over four seconds short of her sister Tirunesh’s world record. She won a bronze medal for the 5,000-meter run at the world championships.
Dibaba says she will go after the indoor mile world record at an indoor meet in Stockholm to start 2016. The record is 4:17:14 set by Doina Melinte of Romania in 1956.
Dibaba is the second Ethiopian woman to win the honor since Meseret Defar won in 2007.
Dibaba beat out 200-meter gold medalist Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands and hammer throw world record holder Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland.
Last year’s honors were won by pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie of France and shot putter Valerie Adams of New Zealand.
– Christopher Chavez