Wed, Sep 22, 2004 - Page 20 News List

IAAF names Isinbayeva, Bekele athletes of the year

AFP , MONACO

Russian athlete Yelena Isinbayeva and Ethiopian Kennisa Bekele pose with the World Athletes of the Year 2004 trophy.

PHOTO: EPA

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele and Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva were named athletes of the year for 2004 at the IAAF Grand Prix finals here.

The duo, both 22, succeeded last year's winners Hicham El-Guerrouj of Morocco and South Africa's Hestrie Cloete.

Bekele had an astonishing season winning the Olympic Games 10,000m and suffered his only defeat in the final of the 5,000m in Athens where he lost to El Guerrouj.

Before the Games, Bekele had set two new world records in the space of eight days.

On May 31, at Hengelo in the Netherlands, he smashed the 5,000m mark in 12min 37.35sec and then, on June 8 at Ostrava in the Czech Republic, he lowered the 10,000m record to 26min 20.31sec.

On top of that, Bekele won a third successive world cross-country title.

Isinbayeva, dubbed the "Sergei Bubka of the women's polevault," took Olympic gold and recorded eight records, setting the new mark of 4.92m in Brussels on Sept. 3.

El Guerrouj and Britain's Kelly Holmes were honored for Performance of the Year.

The Moroccan clinched double gold in Athens in the 1,500m and 5,000m, his first Olympic titles, while Holmes also went home with two golds in the 800m and 1,500m.

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