BARCELONA, Spain, Monday November 26, 2012 – Jamaican sprint ace Usain Bolt did himself, his country and the entire Caribbean proud on Saturday when he bagged the Rolls Royce of sports honours, the IAAF Male Athlete of the Year award, for the fourth time.
The 26-year-old sprint star confounded the opposition and erased any doubts about his form and fitness at London 2012 by storming to gold in defending his 100m and 200m titles, going on to play a key role as Jamaica smashed the world record in the 4x100m.
Saturday emerged as a night of Caribbean pride in more ways than one, with javelin thrower Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad & Tobago and Bahamas sprinter Anthonique Strachan taking home the prestigious 2012 IAAF Rising Star awards.
The ceremony nevertheless belonged to Jamaica’s “Lightning” Bolt, who triumphed over American hurdler Aries Merritt and Kenyan runner David Rudisha for the honour. The 26-year-old fastest man on earth had previously won the award in 2008, 2009, and 2011.
"For me this is a great honour to win a fourth time. I really worked hard and I was really focused this year. This season was one of my toughest. I had my ups and downs, even though we don't like to talk about them," said Bolt, who thanked his coach and the fans at the Olympics.
"The London games were magnificent. Fans were there in the stadium from 10 in the morning. I had never seen anything like that," he added.
Sprinter Allyson Felix of the United States took home the IAAF Female Athlete of the Year award.
Back in 2003, Bolt and Felix had won the IAAF Rising Star awards for the most promising young athletes of the year.
"Nine years ago I was here with Allyson, now I am back, that means I am getting old, which is slightly worrying," Bolt said. "But I will continue to work hard."
Felix won the 200m gold medal in London after settling for silver four years earlier in Beijing.
"My biggest defeats have come at the Olympic Games. After Beijing I was devastated, I had worked as hard as possible but I came up short," she said. "But I decided to rededicate myself even harder and it was a blessing in disguise. I was able to work harder than ever before and finally it all came together."
Felix edged out the other finalists for the women's award: New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams and British heptathlete Jessica Ennis, both of whom were gold medallists in London.
Aries Merritt won the Inspiration Award for his season, which included a gold medal and a world record in the 110m hurdles.
David Rudisha, who was named Athlete of the Year in 2010, won the Performance of the Year award for his record-setting gold medal run in the 800m.