Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah struck European Championship gold just 40 minutes apart on a super Saturday night for the GB track and field team in Barcelona in July and now the pair with the Midas touch have landed the prestigious British Athletics Writers’ Association (BAWA) athlete of the year awards.
For the second year in succession, Ennis is the unanimous choice for the senior women’s award. Farah, who took the senior men’s prize in 2006, has had to overcome close competition from Dai Greene to claim it for a second time in four years.
For both Ennis and Farah, the awards follow notable double international championship successes in 2010.
Ennis won the pentathlon title at the World Indoor Championships in Doha in March and the heptathlon crown at the European Championships four months later. In both instances, the 24-year-old Sheffield athlete eclipsed championship records held by the great Swede Carolina Kluft. For the second year in succession, she is the world’s number one heptathlete.
“It's so nice to have had the votes and won again,” Ennis said. “Last year was brilliant but you always kind of worry, 'Are you going to perform as well the next year? Make the most of it here and now.' But yes I've had another great year and to win this award again, it's brilliant.
“Having a good year in 2009 and backing it up with another good year, winning gold in the world indoors and the European outdoors, was really special. I'm still surprised when you say out loud what I've achieved. It does give you goose pimples. I'm obviously very proud.”
The female award was first won in 1963 by sprinter Dorothy Hyman – like Ennis, a South Yorkshirewoman. Ennis is only the second multi-eventer to win it more than once. Denise Lewis, the 2000 Olympic heptathlon champion, was a four-times winner. “Four times!” Ennis exclaimed. “I’ve got to beat four! That’s tough.”
Farah is the only distance runner to have won the male athlete of the year award since Brendan Foster in 1976. His feat in completing the 5,000m and 10,000m double at the European Championships, and in breaking Dave Moorcroft’s British 5,000m record in Zurich in August, earned the 27-year-old the prize by a margin of three votes. Greene, winner of the 400m hurdles at both the European Championships and Commonwealth Games, was the runner-up. Phillips Idowu, the European triple jump champion, finished third.
“It is a great honour to win the British Athletics Writers’ Association male athlete of the year award for the second time,” Farah said. “I had a great year in 2010, highlighted by my two gold medals in the European Championships in Barcelona and the British 5000m record in Zurich.
“I have been working very hard over the past five years and I would like to thank all the journalists who have followed my journey and supported me along the way. This award is for me and also the team behind me as we continue to try to improve further over the next five years.”
Farah is already hard at work in Kenya, training at high altitude and laying the groundwork for 2011. Ennis is training on home ground in Sheffield, preparing for the indoor season in the new year.
The junior women’s award has been won for the second successive year by world junior 100m champion Jodie Williams of Herts Phoenix AC. The junior men’s award has gone to Jack Meredith of Liverpool Harriers, who won world junior bronze in the 110m hurdles.
The Ron Pickering Memorial Award for Services to Athletics will be presented at the British Athletics Writers’ Association annual luncheon, supported by the Virgin London Marathon, in central London on 14 January.