Kenyan marathon master Eliud Kipchoge and Colombian jumper Caterine Ibarguen won the IAAF men and women’s 2018 awards on Tuesday.
Kipchoge set a new marathon world record in Berlin in September, smashing the previous best by an incredible 78 seconds as he clocked 2hr 1min 39sec. The 34-year-old Olympic champion’s effort was the largest single improvement on the marathon world record since Derek Clayton improved the mark by 2:23 in 1967.
Acclaimed as the greatest marathon runner of the modern era, Kipchoge has dominated marathon racing since making his debut in Hamburg in 2013 after a successful track career that saw him win world gold and silver (2003, 2007) in the 5000m and Olympic silver and bronze (2008, 2004) over the same distance.
He has notched up 10 wins from the 11 marathons he has raced, winning three times not only in Berlin but also London, with victories in Rio for Olympic gold as well as in Hamburg, Rotterdam and Chicago.
“This award means a lot to me,” said Kipchoge, crediting his children as being his “ignition key”.
“It’s a tribute to the hard work that I’ve put in during my career.”
Kipchoge came agonisingly close to sporting immortality by nearly running the first sub two-hour marathon last year. He missed the mythical mark by just 25 seconds. But the race conditions at the Nike-sponsored event were so favourable – Kipchoge ran behind a six-man pacesetting team and was trailed by a time-keeping vehicle on a racing circuit in Monza, Italy – that the time was not recognised by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
“Going under two hours is just 25 seconds away,” said Kipchoge in Monaco.
Ibarguen, also 34, won both horizontal jumps at the Central American and Caribbean Games, the IAAF Continental Cup and at the IAAF Diamond League finals – winning the latter two titles in two different cities within the space of 24 hours.
Sweden’s 19-year-old pole vaulter Armand Duplantis won the men’s rising star award after equalling the second best ever vault with 6.05m at the European champs in Berlin in August.
“Pole vaulting’s a very strange discipline,” said Duplantis. “All the stars aligned for that one meet.”
Handed the award by France’s Renaud Lavillenie, the world record holder with a best of 6.16m, Duplantis was in a playful mood.
“I think I can jump higher than you,” he said when asked by Lavillenie on how high he could go.
American Sydney McLaughlin won the women’s rising star award after setting a world junior indoor 400m record of 50.36sec in March.
That was followed up two months later with an outdoor 400m hurdles mark of 52.75sec - a world junior record and the fastest time recorded this year.