World champions Mo Farah and Christine Ohuruogu were named athletes of the year by the British Athletics Writers’ Association at the organisation’s 51st annual awards staged in London yesterday.
It is the fourth year in succession that Farah has won the oldest end-of-year award in British athletics, while Ohuruogu has previously been voted female athlete of the year in 2007 and 2008.
Farah first won the award in 2006 and dominated voting for the John Rodda Award this year after winning 5,000 and 10,000 metres titles in Moscow in August to back up his Olympic double from 12 months earlier.
Adam Gemili was runner-up for the male athlete of the year award, with fellow sprinter James Dasaolu third. Gemili, 20, won the European under-23 100m title in Tampere and later reached the 200m final at the IAAF World Championships after running 19.98sec in his semi-final – making him the second-fastest Briton in history behind John Regis. Dasaolu, meanwhile, ran 9.91 for 100m to go No2 on the UK all-time rankings and the 26-year-old also reached the world 100m final in Moscow.
Farah, 30, has won the BAWA men’s prize more times than any other athlete during the half-century history of the awards. He was unable to be at the presentation and luncheon because he is busy training in the United States for next year’s Virgin Money London Marathon, but David Bedford, the former 10,000m world record-holder, received his award in his absence.
Ohuruogu won the Cliff Temple Award for female athlete of the year following her stirring victory in the world 400m final. The 29-year-old also broke the long-standing British record held by Kathy Cook with 49.41sec in the Russian capital, in addition to winning Diamond League races in Birmingham and London.
Perri Shakes-Drayton was runner-up in the vote after winning the British 400m hurdles title and going No2 on the UK all-time rankings behind Sally Gunnell with 53.67, while 100m hurdler Tiffany Porter was third after a tremendous season that culminated with a bronze medal, with a personal best of 12.55 at the world championships.
The Ron Pickering Memorial Award for Services to Athletics went to Ohuruogu’s coach, Lloyd Cowan. The presentation of the prestigious award is always a popular moment during the awards and Ohuruogu was on hand to chat with Shaun Pickering, from the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, and emcee Geoff Wightman as Cowan collected the honour.
Asha Philip earned BAWA’s 2013 Inspiration Award given in recognition of an athlete who has made an outstanding performance in a single event, performed well against the odds, or is retiring after a long and distinguished career. In Philip’s case she has fought back from career-threatening injury to win British titles at 60m indoors and 100m outdoors in 2013.
Back in 2007, Philip was named BAWA junior woman of the year after winning the world youth 100m title, but she badly injured her knee in the Trampoline World Championships in Canada a few days after picking up the BAWA honour in London and did not return to her best again for about four years.
Zak Seddon, the European junior 3,000m steeplechase gold medallist, won the Jim Coote Memorial Award for junior men. The Florida State student ran 8:34.42 this year – a time that only two British senior men surpassed in 2013 – and his father and coach, Jeff, was at the luncheon to accept the prize.
The Lillian Board Memorial Award for junior women went to Jessica Judd after her 800m exploits in 2013. The 18-year-old won the two-lap race at the European Team Championships in Gateshead in June and followed this with a sub-two-minute victory at the Diamond League in Birmingham.
Hannah Cockroft and Richard Whitehead were named Paralympic athletes of the year – a relatively new category introduced by the athletics writers following the success of the 2012 Paralympic Games. Cockroft retained her T34 100m and 200m titles at the IPC World Championships in Lyon while Whitehead also won gold in Lyon, in the T42 200m, before running from John O’Groats to Land’s End for charity.
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UPCOMING SJA EVENTS
Mon Mar 24: SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, Grand Connaught Rooms
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