Top middle distance runner Haile Gebrselassie (ETH) has been announced as winner of the Jesse Owens International Trophy Award for 1998. The award was announced by former athlete Edwin Moses, President of the International Amateur Association, which is responsible for administering the award.
Gebrselassie was selected by an international panel from the three finalists for the award, which also included 800m world champion and world record holder Wilson Kipketer (DEN) and 100m world champion Marion Jones (USA). Gebrselassie received 107 votes, against Kipketer's 95 and 66 for Marion Jones.
Informed of the award just before leaving for Nagano to attend the Winter Olympics in his capacity of member of the IOC, IAAF President Primo Nebiolo said in a telegram message to Gebrselassie: "My heartfelt congratulations on the award of the Jesse Owens International Trophy. This prestigious honour is recognition of the great contribution you have made to our sport during your career and especially of your magnificent efforts during the past athletics season. Your commitment and unfailing dedication resulted in your establishing two world records in the 1997 season and adding the title of world champion in the 10,000m to your Olympic title in this event from Atlanta. I am sure that this award, which follows your latest world record success in the 3000m indoors in Karlsruhe on 25 January, will spur you on to even greater achievement in the forthcoming season."
Gebrselassie won his third consecutive world championship title in the 10,000m in Athens in August and set a world record mark of 26:31.32 over the distance in Oslo on 4 July. On 13 August he set a 5000m world record mark of 12:41.86 in the Zürich Grand Prix. These records were subsequently broken by Paul Tergat and Daniel Komen, respectively, in the Brussels Grand Prix meeting on 22 August.
Gebrselassie's latest world record came on Sunday 25 January, in Karlsruhe, Germany, when he beat his own 3000m indoors record to set a new mark of 7:26.14. His intention for the 1998 season is to concentrate on new records.
The Jesse Owens International Trophy will be presented to Gebrselassie at a dinner in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on 25 February.