27 NOV 2000 General News

Jan Zelezny and Marion Jones elected Athletes of the Year 2000

Jan Zelezny and Marion Jones elected Athletes of the Year 2000

26 November 2000 -  Monte Carlo - Jan Zelezny (CZE) and Marion Jones (USA) are the Athletes of the Year for 2000. The announcement was made at 21:30 tonight by HSH Prince Albert and IAAF President Lamine Diack during the World Athletics Gala 2000 at the Sporting d’Ete, Monte Carlo.

Diack said: "Both athletes have shown outstanding competitive ability throughout the season, but they have also been superb role models, displaying respect for their rivals and good humour during extremely stressful circumstances." Jones - who won this title in 1997 and 1998 - had an extremely busy 2000, and made a daring effort to capture five gold medals at the Olympic Games in Sydney. Although she fell short of this goal - she still won gold medals at 100m, 200m and the 4x400m as well as bronze in the Long Jump and 4x100m. Zelezny, who wins this honour for the first time in a long and successful career, became the first man to win three consecutive Javelin titles at the Olympic Games. It was the manner of this victory - he threw 90.17 to regain the lead taken by Britain’s Steve Backley who had thrown a superb 89.85 - which captured the imagination.

But as well as the Athletes of the Year, a number of other stars were rewarded at the Gala, organised by the International Athletic Foundation with the support of the Compagnie Monégasque de Banque and MONDO.

The "Inspirational Award" was given to CATHY FREEMAN (AUS) in recognition of the most dramatic winning performance of 2000 - her Olympic 400m victory in Sydney;

The "Distinguished Career Award" was given to HEIKE DRECHSLER (GER) - winner of the Olympic Long Jump title at age 35 - and SERGEY BUBKA (UKR) who announced his retirement this season - for demonstrating sustained excellence throughout long careers. Finally, the "Rising Star Award" was given to JANA PITTMAN (AUS) and HAMDAN O. AL BISHI (KSA). Pittman competed in the Olympic Games before winning the 400m and 400m Hurdles titles at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Santiago de Chile. Al Bishi won the 400m title in Santiago with 44.66 - a time bettered by only six senior runners.

The award winners were chosen by the Council of the International Athletic Foundation, with the Athletes of the Year based on nominations made by an international panel of experts.