Jeremy Wariner clocks a superb 43.62 to win Rome Golden League's 400m (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Jesse Owens Awards go to Richards and Wariner

Sanya Richards and Jeremy Wariner on Tuesday have been announced as winners of the 2006 Jesse Owens Award by USA Track & Field, having in 2006 completed undefeated outdoor seasons in the 400m, and won US$250,000 shares of the IAAF Golden League Jackpot.

Richards who has already been crowned female World Athlete of the Year, is like Wariner the IAAF World Ranked number one at 400m, but had the added distinction of topping the Overall ranking and breaking the 22-year-old American record in 2006.

Established in 1981, The Jesse Owens Award is USA Track & Field's highest accolade, presented annually to the outstanding U.S. male and female track and field performers.

"I am extremely honoured to be selected as the Jesse Owens award winner," said Richards, the 2005 World Championship silver medallist. "I admire all his accomplishments and am excited to be accepting an award in memory of him. I visited his room at the Berlin Olympic Village this summer and I find it so gratifying to end the 2006 season with this amazing award."

"I was extremely happy when I found out that I won the Jesse Owens Award,” confirmed Wariner, the 2004 Olympic and 2005 World champion, who in Rome cruised to a career best 43.62 to move up to the No. 4 spot all-time. “I worked so hard this past season to stay focused and win all my races. I was fortunate to win the Golden League this year, and to run a great race in Rome with my personal best. This award just tops off a great season, and I'm hoping I can run even faster next season.”

Coach Clyde Hart is honoured too

2006 Jesse Owens Award winners were selected in balloting of members of the U.S. track & field media. Other finalists for the men's Jesse Owens Award were LaShinda Demus, Deena Kastor, Kim Kreiner and Ginnie Powell. Men's finalists were Walter Davis, Tyson Gay, Daniel Lincoln and Wallace Spearmon.

This year's awards will be presented on December 2 at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, held in Indianapolis. The ceremony is held in conjunction with USA Track & Field's 2006 Annual Meeting.

The permanent commemorative Jesse Owens Award is maintained at USATF National Headquarters, and a replica is provided to each of the winners. 

Previous winners are Edwin Moses (1981), Carl Lewis (1982 and 1991), Mary Decker (1983), Joan Benoit (1984), Willie Banks (1985), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1986 and 1987), Florence Griffith Joyner (1988), Roger Kingdom (1989), Lynn Jennings (1990), Kevin Young (1992), Gail Devers (1993, 1996), Michael Johnson (1994, 1995, 1996), Allen Johnson (1997), Marion Jones (1997, 1998, 2002), John Godina (1998, 2001), Inger Miller (1999), Maurice Greene (1999), Stacy Dragila (2000 and 2001), Angelo Taylor (2000), Khalid Khannouchi(2002), Deena Kastor (2003), Tom Pappas (2003), Justin Gatlin (2004 and 2005) and Joanna Hayes (2004), and Allyson Felix (2005).