Duplantis and Rojas named World Athletes of the Year

ANI
·3 min read
Swedish pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis
Swedish pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis

Quai Antoine [Monaco], December 5 (ANI): World record-breakers Mondo Duplantis of Sweden and Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela have been named the male and female World Athletes of the Year respectively at the World Athletics Awards 2020, a ceremony held virtually on Saturday.

Duplantis broke the world record in the pole vault twice, topping 6.17m and 6.18m on back-to-back weekends in February just a few weeks before the global coronavirus pandemic ground the sporting world to a halt. When competition finally resumed, Duplantis capped his season and produced the highest outdoor vault of all time (6.15m) and finished the year undefeated in 16 competitions.

Duplantis, who celebrated his 21st birthday last month, is the youngest athlete ever named World Athlete of the Year.

"It was a really strange season, for me and everybody, but I was able to put it together and get some pretty good results," said Duplantis, who received the Rising Star Award in 2018.

"I just wanted to go out there and show the world what I was capable of and put my name out there with some big performances. I was able to do that and had some good heights, especially during the indoor season. When everything got shut down and things were pushed back to the end of the season, I was able to find some good form there as well which, for me, was more impressive than my indoor season because I'd had two months off.

"I think it's cool when people describe me as the face of the sport, but it's not something that I need to be or that I must have. I just try to go out there, I try to jump high, I try to break world records, I try to just keep improving," he added.

Like many athletes, Rojas competed sparingly in 2020, but she made each of her appearances count. Rojas broke the South American indoor triple jump record in her first competition of the year, reaching 15.03m in Metz, France. In her next competition, at the World Athletics Indoor Tour meeting in Madrid, she leaped 15.43m in the final round of the competition to break the world indoor record by seven centimetres.

She competed just twice outdoors, winning the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Monaco and again in Castellon, Spain, where she sailed 14.71m, the farthest leap in the world outdoors this year.

"I honestly didn't expect this, I really cannot believe it. It is such a joy and I'm filled with happiness. Just being one of the finalists felt like winning to me; being nominated among other exceptional athletes was already a wonderful achievement," said Rojas, who received the Rising Star Award in 2017.

"This victory means a lot to me and to all of those who work with me every day, everyone who gives me strength and motivation every day. And now, being the best athlete of the year is an additional inspiration for me for 2021. It is going to be a great year and I have a lot of ambition. This gives me a lot of strength to keep on track with my career," she added. (ANI)