2011 World Athletes of the Year Sally Pearson and Usain Bolt. [Source: IAAF]
Usain Bolt and Sally Pearson have been named the male and female world athletes of the year for 2011, IAAF President Lamine Diack announced on Saturday.
Bolt, who won the award for the third time, and Pearson, a first-time nominee and winner, received their trophies and 100,000 dollar prizes at the 2011 World Athletics Gala on Saturday evening.
Bolt, 25, successfully defended his title in the 200m at the World Championships in Daegu clocking 19.40 seconds, the second fastest performance of the year.
He concluded the championships by anchoring a Jamaican quartet to a 37.04 second world record in the 4x100m relay and ended the season undefeated in four 200m races. He was also the 2011 world leader in the 100m at 9.76, and won five of his six races over the distance.
"This season was a really trying season for me, I really had to work hard and stand up my game," said Bolt, who was also named athlete of the year in 2008 and 2009.
"There were some close races this season, I really had to push myself. So this (award) really means a whole lot to me. Because I really came out there hard this year, and all the hard work I put in paid off."
Pearson, also 25, dominated the women's 100m hurdles this year, winning ten of her 11 competitions while producing seven of the season's quickest 11 performances.
The highlight was her sensational 12.28 second clocking to take the world title, making her the fourth fastest woman in history with the fastest performance in nearly two decades.
"It was just such an honor to be in the top ten this year," said Pearson, who like Bolt was a world youth champion in 2003. " To be able to win this for my country and for my region Oceania means a lot and hopefully will inspire junior athletes to stay in athletics."
"It was a little surprising that I won," Pearson said, speaking highly of her co-finalists for the year's top honor. "Vivian ( Cheruiyot) was a three-time world champion and Valerie (Adams) just dominates every time she's out there. She's the role model athlete everyone should look up to."