Three-time London Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix was given the IAAF’s top annual honor Friday when she was named the organization’s Athlete of the Year. Felix was honored at the Athletes of the Year Awards Ceremony in Barcelona, Spain, as U.S. athletes also picked up year-end awards from Aries Merritt (Inspirational Award), the London Olympic women’s 4x100-meter relay team (Female Performer of the Year) and Robert Lida (Male Master of the Year) Friday.
This is the first time Felix has won the award in her career and received a trophy and $100,000 in prize money. In August, Felix became the first athlete since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988 to win three gold medals in a single Olympic Games when she took gold in the 200m, 4x400m and as part of the world record setting 4x100m. A three-time World Outdoor champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist in the event, this was Felix’s first Olympic gold medal in the 200m. Her career best in the 200m of 21.69 at the U.S. Olympic Trials established the Trials record and made Felix the fourth fastest woman in history.
Felix teamed with Tianna Madison, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter to establish the world record in winning London Olympic gold in the 4x100m in a time of 40.82 and also win the IAAF’s Female Performer of the Year award. The quartet crushed the existing world record by .55 seconds, which was the biggest drop in the record in the modern era. It was the first time since 1996 that Team USA had won Olympic gold in the event.
Merritt’s emergence in 2012 to win Olympic gold in the 110m hurdles and shatter the world record by .07 seconds at the Brussels Diamond League meet in September with a time of 12.80 won him the IAAF’s Inspirational Award. Merritt dominated the event by running under 13 seconds a total of eight times and recorded the seven fastest times in the world. He also took gold in the 60m hurdles at the World Indoor Championships in March in Istanbul, Turkey.
Lida (M75) established a total of five masters world age-group records this season and won three gold medals at the World Masters Indoor Championships en route to winning the Male Master of the Year award.
For the fourth time in his career, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt received the IAAF Male Athlete of the Year award.