Farah & Ennis voted British Athletes of the Year, release for BAWA, courtesy of Nicola Okey, note by Larry Eder

Mo Farah, photo courtesy of PhotoRun.net

Jessica Ennis, photo by PhotoRun.net

Mo Farah & Jessica Ennis were named British Athletes of the Year on Friday, October 26, 2012, by the British Athletics Writers Association. I applaud BAWA for their decision, as they had some great British performances in 2012.  While there were some superlative performances by British athletes in 2012, including Greg Rutherford's long jump win, Robbie Grabberz bronze medal and British record in the high jump, Farah and Ennis had the most to loose and, in turn, the most to win.

Farah came into London with gold medal in the 5,000 meters in Daegu and a silver medal in the 10,000 meters in Daegu as well. That silver medal, in my mind, gave Mo Farah, and his coach, Alberto Salazar, and his mentor, Ian Stewart of UK Endurance, much to consider. And consider, they did. 

Using tactics that dated back to the 1972 Olympics, Mo Farah drew his fellow competitors into races that he controlled, kilometer after kilometer. Using negative splits, and a killer last thousand meters in both races, Mo Farah fatigued his competitors so much that Farah's finishing, touch, a 52 second last lap finished them off. The 10,000 meters had me on my feet the last two kllometers, and the 5,000 meters, well that was a race that I thought might be over Mo's ability--how wrong I was. Mo Farah finished off the best kickers in the world in both races. Farah was prepared to race, his competitors were not. 

The funny thing, is that Ian Stewart had told this writer, since the end of 2011, that there was nothing to worry about, Mo Farah would do fantastic in London. When I would ask him for more information, he would just smile, knowing that Mo Farah was coming along just fine, thank you. After Farah's win at the Prefontaine over 5,000 meters, Stewart told me, " He is not ready yet, but he will ready come time for London."  Alberto Salazar told this writer that Mo Farah and Galen Rupp were perfect training partners way back in February 2011. Farah and Rupp draw the best out of each other, which was so obvious during the racing in London. Nice to see the Anglo-US alliance working so well. 

I have to say that I believe no athlete that I have witnessed in London had the pressure of Jessica Ennis. I saw her take the silver in Daegu and Istanbul. She handled it with grace and was composed. I wondered to myself, How does she stand it? 

But stand it, Jessica Ennis did. Her British record in Gotsiz in June 2012 was the bell weather. In London, Ennis had several chances to blow it, but she kept herself together. Her first day showed that she was in London for one thing: to win. Her coach, Toni Minichiello, helped Jessica Ennis focus, with more media attention on her than any athlete should ever have to consider.  


British Athletics Writers' Association


Olympic champions Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis were named athletes of the year by the British Athletics Writers' Association at the organisation's 50th annual awards event today.

It is the third year in succession that these two athletes have picked up British athletics' top prize, and both have now been named athletes of the year four times by the sport's leading writers.

Neither winner could be present at the lunchtime ceremony at London's Tower Hotel, but Ennis' coach Toni Minichiello was there to accept his athlete's award on her behalf, while Alan Watkinson, the school teacher who discovered and nurtured the teenaged Mo Farah, collected the men's award for his former pupil.

Farah first won the award in 2006 and dominated voting for the John Rodda Award this year after his thrilling double victory over 5000m and 10,000m at the London Olympic Games. Olympic long jump gold medallist Greg Rutherford was runner-up and high jumper Robbie Grabarz was third after winning a bronze medal in London.

The 29-year-old west Londoner has now won the men's award more times than any other athlete, moving ahead of all-time greats Lynn Davies, Sebastian Coe, Linford Christie and Jonathan Edwards who were all triple winners.

Ennis retained the Cliff Temple Award for female athlete of the year, which she has held since 2009. The 26-year-old from Sheffield was a comfortable winner of the 2012 vote after her emphatic and emotional heptathlon victory in London, which kick-started Britain's golden hour in the Olympic Stadium on 'super Saturday'. Ennis also won a pentathlon silver medal at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul in March.

Christine Ohuruogu was runner-up in the vote after winning a silver medal over 400m at London 2012, while the world indoor triple jump champion, Yamilé Aldama, was third. Ohuruogu was female athlete of the year in 2007 and 2008.

With four BAWA awards to her name, Ennis is now equal with fellow multi-eventer Denise Lewis, the 2000 Olympic heptathlon champion, and one behind Paula Radcliffe who was athlete of the year five times between 1999 and 2005.

Aldama's triple jump victory in Istanbul also earned the 40-year-old east London resident BAWA's 2012 Inspiration Award given in recognition of an athlete who made an outstanding performance in a single event, performed well against the odds, or is retiring after a long and distinguished career.

Aldama broke the world masters record to win world indoor gold in March then battled back from a shoulder injury to finish fifth at the Olympic Games.

The season's sprint sensation Adam Gemili won the Jim Coote Memorial Award for junior men. The east Londoner was virtually unknown before 2012, but ended his first full season in the sport as world junior 100m champion, British junior record holder, and silver medallist at the British senior championships where he won a place on the British Olympic team.

The Lillian Board Memorial Award for junior women went to Katarina Johnson-Thompson who won the world junior long jump title in Barcelona before finishing 15th in the heptathlon at London 2012. The Liverpudlian set four personal bests at the Olympics and broke the British junior record twice in 2012.

Wheelchair racer David Weir won a special award for Outstanding Achievement by a Paralympic Athlete, a category introduced by the athletics writers to mark the success of the 2012 Paralympic Games. Weir won four gold medals at London 2012 just a few months after claiming a record-equalling sixth London Marathon victory.

The Ron Pickering Memorial Award for Services to Athletics was presented to veteran athletics writer Mel Watman, a founder member of the British Athletics Writers' Association and the organisation's honorary president. Watman, a former editor of Athletics Weekly and author of numerous books on the sport, is now co-editor of the highly respected newsletter, Athletics International.


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