Brianna Rollins and LaShawn Merritt have been awarded the titles of Jesse Owens and Jackie Joyner-Kersee Athlete of the Year, USA Track & Field announced on Monday (2).
Merritt and Rollins will be honoured on 7 December at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Indianapolis. The event is held in conjunction with USA Track & Field’s annual meeting.
Merritt returned to the throne as the world No. 1 in the 400m in 2013, running six of the 10 fastest times of the year. A double gold medallist at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Merritt took 400m gold with a PB of 43.74 and anchored the US men to victory in the 4x400m Relay in a world-leading 2:58.71.
Merritt also claimed the overall Diamond Race crown, running 44.13 in Zurich and defeating rival Kirani James of Grenada in the process. Merritt finished no worse than second in all of his 400m races of 2013.
“This was a big year for me and a lot went into it,” Merritt said. “I learned about my body and how the 400m really works. 2013 started slow because of my injury from last year but I knew I had to just keep the faith and move forward.
Rollins had a dream season in 2013, rewriting the record books and hauling in multiple championships titles. Rollins captured the NCAA indoor (60m Hurdles) and outdoor (100m Hurdles) crowns and the US outdoor title on her way to her first World Championships victory in the 100m Hurdles.
Rollins ran four of the five fastest times in the world, setting a US record of 12.26 at the US Championships and a collegiate record of 12.39 at the NCAA Championships. Rollins was undefeated in all events she contested throughout the whole year.
“I feel so honoured to be receiving the 2013 Jackie Joyner-Kersee Award,” said Rollins. “It has been such a tremendous year. I’m truly blessed.”
The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Award is newly named for the USATF female athlete of the year.
The 2013 Jesse Owens Award and Jackie Joyner-Kersee award winners were selected in balloting of members of the US track and field media, and a fan vote was held on the USATF website that comprised 10% of the total vote.
Other men’s finalists included Ashton Eaton, Justin Gatlin, David Oliver, Nick Symmonds, Michael Tinsley and Ryan Whiting. Finalists for the women’s award were Brigetta Barrett, Mary Cain, Michelle Carter, Brittney Reese, Jennifer Simpson and Jenn Suhr.
Established in 1981, the Jesse Owens Award is USATF’s highest accolade, presented annually to the outstanding US male and female track and field performers. The award is named after worldwide icon Jesse Owens, who won gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany.
USATF for the IAAF