This is the time of year when various entities hand out their awards. Sports Illustrated just did theirs, the Heisman is coming up, USATF did theirs last week, and the USTFCCCA will give out the Bowerman Awards this weekend.
I don’t know why, but I’ve always liked the NHL’s awards, which are trophies named after various people. I’ve actually seen these trophies (they’re stored at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto) and they’re very cool in a decidedly old-school way.
My year-end awards will follow the same format. So here we go…
Best male athlete who competes in multiple events
I’ve always thought that athletes who compete in several events get treated differently (usually better) than those who specialize in a single event. So I split up the best-athlete awards.
Blake had a great season in the 100, losing just once (to Asafa Powell) and winning the Worlds. He ran only one 200 of note, but it was stunning.
Best male athlete who competes in a single event
Ashton Eaton had the great points totals, but Hardee won the two biggest decathlons of the year, the Worlds and Gotzis. He even won that three-event competition at January’s Millrose Games. Runner-up here would probably be David Rudisha.
Best female athlete who competes in multiple events
She got screwed out of the IAAF’s athlete of the year award.
Best female athlete who competes in a single event
This was close between Adams and Sally Pearson, but Adams gets the nod by a hair.
Achievement or contribution by a writer, official or administrator
You have to be a track nerd to have heard of Bob Hersh—and before this year, even total track nerds had barely heard of him. A lawyer by trade, his experience as an athlete is basically zero. He was the team manager both in high school and at Columbia University, and after college he stayed active in track circles as an official, announcer, correspondent, and statistician. He quietly did whatever needed to be done, eventually ending up on USATF’s Board of Directors.
Sent by USATF (then known as TAC) to the IAAF to do various technocratic jobs, he was made an IAAF council member in 1999. At this year’s IAAF Congress, he ran for the four Vice President positions along with such well-known movers and shakers as Seb Coe and Sergey Bubka, both long rumored to be jockeying for the next IAAF presidency. After all the dust settled, Hersh received the most votes, which made him the IAAF’s Senior Vice President. It was a stunning outcome (albeit one that basically no one paid attention to), especially considering the status of Americans in international sport these days.
So it was very important that Hersh was the first speaker at last Friday’s night’s contentious meeting at the USATF Convention between athletes, shoe company reps, and USATF leadership. His comments were brief but to the point. He said two very important things. One was to emphasize that the restrictive IAAF uniform rules have no bearing on non-IAAF domestic meets, which was his quiet way of saying that national governing bodies (such as USATF) shouldn’t be imposing those rules at home. No doubt the bigwigs in the room were listening when the IAAF Senior VP spoke, and I’m sure it had an effect.
The other important thing that Hersh said was that, effective January 1, the IAAF would loosen its uniform regulations and allow a second sponsor on uniforms. It was unexpected; one observer said “I couldn’t believe my ears when he announced that there was going to be a change before the meeting had even really got going!”
What I’m sure happened was that Hersh noticed right away when Nick Symmonds famously expressed his frustration over said uniform policies, and began quietly working behind the scenes to make the change. He needed no big press conference to announce the policy and did not take credit for making it happen. Another insider told me “I don’t recall ever hearing anyone…say something bad [about Bob Hersh]”. He’s the most effective leader we have in track and field in the USA, and few people even know who he is.
Indoors you’re awesome, outdoors you suck
Ukhov was undefeated indoors with 6 meets at 2.34m or better, two of them at 2.38m, and took several credible attempts at Javier Sotomayor’s world record. Outdoors, he won only twice in nine meets.
Not Lady Byng Trophy
Athlete who would never be accused of exhibiting outstanding sportsmanship
There were many nominees for this award, including Ethiopians Abera Kuma (for starting a fight during the World Cross Country Championships) and Imane Merga (for shoving others off the track in multiple races). Baala’s win here is more of a lifetime achievement award of dickishness, capped by this summer’s fight on the track at the Herculis Diamond League meet in Monaco.