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Bekele and Isinbayeva win 2004 World Athletes of the Year titles in Monaco

Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia and Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia are 2004 Athletes of the Year (Getty Images)Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia and Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia are 2004 Athletes of the Year (Getty Images) © Copyright

MonteOlympic champions Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia and Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia have been announced as the 2004 Athletes of the Year on stage tonight at the climax to the spectacular 2004 World Athletics Gala at the Grimaldi Forum, Monte-Carlo.

Bekele and Isinbayeva have produced an exemplary series of performances in 2004, with their respective triumphs stretching from the winter right through the Olympic Games. In the case of the Russian following on from the highs of Athens, even setting a World record in Brussels, and winning today at the World Athletics Final.

As well as an Olympic gold medal in the 10,000m and a silver in the 5000m, Bekele triumphed as male Athlete of the Year thanks to his World 5000m & 10,000m records this summer which backed up a sparkling winter which had led him to a World Indoor 5000m record and his third consecutive World Cross Country double.

The 22 year-old Bekele commented about tonight’s award – “After so many great races and good results, it's very special that this award comes next for me."

"I'm very young and to win this prize, is very special at this age. I hope that in the future, I can do it again. "

"To finally win this is very exciting, and I'm very very happy," concluded the Olympic 10,000m gold medallist.

Isinbayeva’s female Athlete of the Year award is due to her extraordinary feat of setting eight World Pole Vault records in one year (three indoors), one of which helped her to secure the World Indoor Championship crown in Budapest, and another the Olympic title in Athens.

“It was a totally crazy season for me, because I won all the great competitions, and had all the World records. This is a wonderful award,” said the ever smiling 22 year-old Russian.

On making lots of money this year…

"The first thing I'm going to buy is a Mercedes SLK, which I drove once, and which I liked. Because I drove it once and went 220 kilometres. I like the speed. The second thing is a flat and the third thing is that I'm going to pay a percentage to my manager and my coach," comfirmed the Olympic Pole Vault champion.


Performances of the Year

Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco and Britain’s Kelly Holmes were confirmed as having provided the Performances of the Year, thanks to their double Olympic triumphs in Athens.


The Vote

Via a public poll on the IAAF home page from Monday 13 to Friday 17 September, the Top-15 names (men and women) in the Overall category of the IAAF World Rankings were whittled down to Five candidates for the Athletes of the Year -

Names in alphabetical order

Athletes of the Year - Men
Virgilijus Alekna (LIT)
Kenenisa Bekele (ETH)
Hicham El Guerrouj (MAR)
Christian Olsson (SWE)
Liu Xiang (CHN)

Athletes of the Year - Women
Veronica Campbell (JAM)
Kelly Holmes (GBR)
Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS)
Carolina Kluft (SWE)
Tonique Williams-Darling (BAH)

Performance of the Year - Men
Kenenisa Bekele (ETH)
Hicham El Guerrouj (MAR)
Justin Gatlin (USA)
Jeremy Wariner (USA)
Liu Xiang (CHN)

Performance of the Year - Women
Elvan Abeylegasse (TUR)
Fani Halkia (GRE)
Kelly Holmes (GBR)
Xing Huina (CHN)
Tonique Williams-Darling (BAH)

This shortlist of 5 was then presented to a Panel of the International Athletic Foundation (IAF) - Honorary President HSH Crown Prince Albert of Monaco, President Lamine Diack, Council Members Amadeo Francis and Dapeng Lou, and Honorary Member Giovanna Nebiolo - who made the final selection of the Athletes of the Year after taking consideration of results achieved at this weekend’s World Athletics Final (18-19 September).


1988 Carl Lewis (USA)               Florence Griffith-Joyner (USA)
1989 Roger Kingdom (USA)       Ana Fidelia Quirot (CUB)
1990 Steve Backley (GBR)         Merlene Ottey (JAM)
1991 Carl Lewis (USA)               Katrin Krabbe (GER)
1992 Kevin Young (USA)            Heike Henkel (GER)
1993 Colin Jackson (GBR)          Sally Gunnell (GBR)
1994 Noureddine Morceli (ALG)   Jackie Joyner-Kersee (USA)
1995 Jonathan Edwards (GBR)    Gwen Torrence (USA)
1996 Michael Johnson (USA)       Svetlana Masterkova (RUS)
1997 Wilson Kipketer (DEN)         Marion Jones (USA)
1998 Haile Gebrselassie (ETH)    Marion Jones (USA)
1999 Michael Johnson (USA)       Gabriela Szabo (ROM)
2000 Jan Zelezny (CZE)               Marion Jones (USA)
2001 Hicham El Guerrouj (MAR)   Stacy Dragila (USA)
2002 Hicham El Guerrouj (MAR)   Paula Radcliffe (GBR)
2003 Hicham El Guerrouj (MAR)   Hestrie Cloete (RSA)
2004 Kenenisa Bekele (ETH)        Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS)

Korzeniowski, Fredericks and Bannister are honoured

There were also a number of other awards made to distinguished athletes from both the recent and distant past of our sport.

Awarded for their Distinguished Careers were legendary Race walker Robert Korzeniowski (POL) and for his majestic sprinting Frank Fredericks (NAM).

The Life Time Achievement Award was presented to Sir Roger Bannister (GBR) who as well as his famous first Four Minute Mile feat also won the Commonwealth (then Empire) Games and European Championships Mile/1500m titles in 1954.