After an incredible year for the sport of athletics, the world's finest gathered in Monaco for a celebration of all that they gave us in a momentous Olympic year. This is what went down at the IAAF Athletics Awards 2016.
It means no worries
You can’t kid a kidder, as the old saying goes, and it would appear that you can’t beat a world record holder for time keeping.
“I think you are late,” two-time Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha told a Kenyan reporter who asked about the possibility of 400m showdown with sprint legend Usain Bolt, minutes after another hack had posed the same question.
Awks? Totes. But nothing that a “hakuna matata” couldn’t smooth over.
Rudisha was prepared to entertain the possibility of such a race taking place. So what about Usain Bolt?
“We know that won’t happen. Everyone knows that won’t happen. Ever.”
Off the cuff
At SPIKES Towers we’re more tracksuit than dress suit. Perhaps birthday suit, at a push.
One day we’ll grow up to wear real clothes that our mothers approve of. And when we do we’ll be sporting Statman Jon’s track and field cuff links. WANT.
Vaulter on the roof
They say you have to be a little bit crazy to do the pole vault. Step forward charming Brazilian Thiago Braz da Silva.
Aged 12, the Olympic champ jumped off the roof of his house, landed on concrete and smashed his knee into his chin. That experience would put most off heights for life, but it had the opposite effect on the super Brazilian.
“I liked falling. It’s an exciting feeling.” Definitely crazy, definitely a pole vaulter.
P.S. Don’t try this at home.
Olympic javelin champ Thomas Rohler can throw a matchstick 32m. What have you been doing with your life?
P.S. Do try this at home, just don’t light the match.
Our kind of runner
To become a champion, former “party person” Elaine Thompson replaced late nights with early starts in order to fit both track sessions and school studies into her hectic shedule.
“I wake up every morning at four o’clock,” revealed the Jamaican, who starts training at 5:30 before going to school later on.
Brutal, but worth it: besides clinching the 100m and 200m sprint crowns in Rio, culinary arts student Thompson is now a master at making mashed sweet potato with grilled chicken and steamed broccoli.
If you can catch her she might even let you have a taste.
We all need somebody to lean on
In the topsy-turvy world of international track and field, having a good, solid friend by your side is always useful.
Olympic 110m hurdle champ Omar McLeod and 100m hurdle world record holder Keni Harrison are best of pals, as was evident when they appeared together at Friday’s smile-a-minute press session.
But it’s not just when talking to media that such a bond pays dividends. Harrison was devastated to miss out on a place at the Rio Olympic Games, and McLeod was one of the people on hand to help her restore her confidence.
“I knew she was in a dark place after not making the Olympic team – I had to be that friend to support her,” he said.
Two weeks after that heartbreak Harrison broke the 28-year-old world record in her event. We all have sorrow, but there’s always tomorrow.
Never tease a lion
Besides Usain Bolt and Wayde van Niekerk’s mutual hatred of the 400m, the sprint heroes of 2016 also share a genuine respect for one another.
So when van Niekerk was asked who would win in a 300m race between the two, the quarter-mile world record holder wouldn’t take the bait.
“Never tease a lion – you will get bit,” the philosophical Springbok mused. Noted.
Slay, it’s Shaunae
We'll sign our modeling contracts now 📃🖋😜❤️ pic.twitter.com/qMFk0lL9ut— Shaunae Miller (@Hey_ItsShaunae) December 2, 2016
Unlike the boys, glamourpuss Shaunae Miller loves running the 400m. The Bahamanian has a reason: “Of course I’m gonna say women are tougher than guys,” laughed the statuesque Miller, who claimed Olympic gold at Rio 2016.
Toughness comes in many forms.
Almaz Ayana does most of her talking on the track. When she talks off it, the Ethiopian distance star suffers no fool.
After collecting her IAAF Female World Athlete of the Year award she was asked at what stage during her gold medal run in the 10,000m final at Rio 2016 she realised the world record was also in her grasp.
“When I crossed the line,” she quipped, through top translator Haile Gebrselassie (who apparently can run a bit as well).
Acting the GOAT
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, the phrase to “act the goat” means “to behave in a silly way”.
According to the Urban Dictionary, “GOAT” means “Greatest Of All Time”.
In the case of Usain Bolt, whose antics were on full display after he collected his sixth IAAF Male World Athlete of the Year award, both interpretations are apt.
Make the most of this rather special goat while you can.