12 November, 2017

IAAF's choice of athlete of the year finalists

I could not believe my eyes. For the second year in a row Wlodarczyk has been eliminated from the "athlete of the year" final. In my personal selection she was not only a finalist but the athlete of the year title winner. 

I simply cannot understand IAAF. What did Ayana do in order to justify her position among the top three? She did win the world title over 10 km with a reasonably good performance (but nothing to write home about) and then she lost the 5 km race. A bis repetita of her last year's Olympic performance. At least, last year she surprised everybody with her our-of-this-world record (but I am somehow distrustful of extraterrestrial records). I just cross my fingers for one of the other two finalists to win the title, instead of Ayana. 

Speaking of the other two, I would be happy if either of them won. Both Stefanidi and Thiam have dominated their discipline and amply deserve this distinction. Given that Stefanidi was nominated European athlete of the year I have the feeling that the final choice will be Thiam. And to tell the truth, with her model looks she would be perfect in the official photo alongside Barshim. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Given the choice of the final three men I am afraid of a bad surprise. For me there is no question that the athlete of the year is none else but Barshim. Van Niekerk's chance was last year and he was eliminated in favour of Bolt, an inexplicable choice. This year, despite his world title, he was slightly below par and it would be sad to offer him the title as a consolation prize. And then there is Farah, whose presence in the final three I cannot understand. Given the rumours that circulate concerning his coach and the fact that Farah managed to end his track career losing the world title over 5 km on a beginner's tactical mistake, I just hope that the IAAF does not  prepare a bad surprise for us, an "adieu" title for him. (I know, I know, he did win the Diamond League 5 km. But should this change anything?).

I would like to add a word on the choice of the "rising stars" finalists. I did not include Warholm and Rojas in my choice since they had both secured world champion titles (and, to be honest, in the case of Rojas, because I do not like her style). The remaining two women, Levchenko and Naser, are indeed among my choice of three. This is not true for the men, the IAAF 's choice being Coleman and Duplantis. I have hesitated for the latter. His 5.90 m vault has been an incredible performance. Unfortunately the remaining of the year he did not confirm it (despite his European U20 title in Grosetto) finishing 9th at the World's in London. Still, given his age I am sure that, barring injuries, he will be part of my "rising star" choice in the years to come. Coleman on the other hand is, to my eyes, more of a shooting, rather than a rising, star. I have seen many young US sprinters shine during one season, only to disappear the next one. So I will wait for Coleman to confirm his talent and I will keep an eye open for someone like McMaster who, together with Warholm and Samba, could signal a new era for the 400 m hurdles. 

Added on November 27th

 The final decicion for the athlete of the year was in favour of Thiam and Barshim.

For me these are excellent choices. To tell the truth I did not expect Stefanidi to be nominated after she had won the European athlete of the year title. (Has she jumped 5 m though ...). Barshim was my favourite and he went on to win. Thiam is also a great athlete that I have been following closely. (I was somehow disappointed by her sartorial choice of a really tame black dress). 

The nomination of Rojas and Warholm for the year's rising stars was expected. Given that they are already world champions I wouldn't have chosen them, preferring Naser and McMaster instead, but I must admit that choosing them was an excellent decision.

The only thing I cannot admit is that Wlodarczyk has been passed over once more.

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