France’s Renaud Lavillenie and New Zealand’s Valerie Adams were named the male and female World Athletes of the Year for 2014.
The pair received their trophies at this evening’s IAAF World Athletics Gala held at the Chapiteau de Fontvieille.
The awards were hosted by International Athletics Foundation (IAF) Honorary President HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and IAF & IAAF President Lamine Diack, who presented the trophies to the male and female winners.
It was the first time in the history of the awards that field event athletes had won both accolades and was also the first time that a male pole vaulter or a female thrower had won the World Athlete of the Year award.
Lavillenie, 28, had an almost perfect season which included setting a pole vault world record of 6.16m in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk.
The Frenchman won 21 of his 22 competitions in 2014, a series which included victories in the Diamond Race as well as at the European Championships and IAAF Continental Cup.
“This season couldn’t have been better. This is really the dream season for me. I can only enjoy this and be very grateful to the whole athletics family,” reflected Lavillenie.
“I think the world record contributed to the award, but I won other competitions too. I wasn’t as good as Valerie, I lost one competition, but 21 out of 22 is not too bad in an event which is quite unpredictable,” he joked.
Adams, 30, may have thrown farther in previous seasons than she did in 2014, but the Olympic champion added a ninth senior global title to her collection when she successfully defended her world indoor crown in Sopot and triumphed at the Commonwealth Games.
She was the only athlete in the world to win at all seven IAAF Diamond League fixtures in any discipline and was a clear winner of the women’s shot put Diamond Race.
“This is the icing on the cake for 2014. It’s been a year that’s been physically challenging but I’m proud to be here for New Zealand and Oceania,” commented Adams.
“There’s been a lot of pain but I love what I do, I love competing. I’m mentally strong and I have a high pain threshold so that makes it easier,” she added, with her delight evident for all to see.