Female Athlete Of The Year: Who Is She? by Dave Hunter

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Each year we ask David Hunter to give us his thoughts on the Male and Female athlete of the year. This is David's comments on the Female Athlete of the Year.

David surprised me with three of his five. I like surprises.


Tell us what you think of David's picks. Email me at [email protected] to discuss.

Female Athlete Of The Year: Who Is She?

October 25, 2015

Sorting through the spectacular track & field achievements by a handful of outstanding athletes is no less difficult for the women than it is for the men. Quite simply and as expected, there were a number of terrific performances by an array of female performers - all honing their skills in this championship year leading up to next year's Olympic showdown in Rio. Utilizing the three-prong metric of progression of marks, head-to-head competition, and honors won, more than a few elite women can make a compelling case for Athlete of the Year. Here's how I see it:

Worthy of honorable mention are: Shelley Ann Fraser-Pryce [SAFP won the 100m and anchored Jamaican's winning 4x100 relay team at the World Championships; Diamond league champion; had world leading mark of 10.74]; Caterine Ibarquen [This triple jump world champion who has won 30 finals in a row also took the Diamond League crown; #2 on WL, but had 5 of top 7 jumps this year]; Daphne Schippers [200m world champion had year's top clocking at 21.63; Diamond League runner up to Allyson Felix]; and Christina Schwanitz [With Valerie Adams cautiously coming back from surgery, this shot putter was world champion, Diamond League victor, and had 2015's top 4 throws with a best of 20.77m (68'1¾")].

But 5 other women made an even stronger case of for AOY honors. In ascending order, they are:

Hejnova_Zuzana1-Zurich15.jpgZuzana Hejnova, photo by PhotoRun.net

#5. Zuzana Hejnova. The Czech Republic's Hejnova dominated the 400H in 2015. A decisive winner in the race for the Diamond League crown, Hejnova ran a world-leading 53.50 to claim the world championship title in Beijing. Losses at Birmingham and Oslo appear to be the only blemishes of this great athlete's otherwise-sparkling 2015 record.

Felix_Allyson1a-Doha15.jpgAllyson Felix, photo by PhotoRun.net

#4. Allyson Felix. Never one to back away from a challenge, Allyson Felix stretched herself in 2015 by basically eschewing her favorite 200m event - "my baby" - to tackle the 400m. It worked out pretty well. Felix never lost a 400m final in 2015 - climaxing with a perfectly-executed 49.26 in the Beijing final to capture the one-lap world championship gold medal. That year-leading mark ranks Felix #17 on the all-time world list and positions her as the #4 American performer ever. Felix also ran in the world championship 4x400m relay final. And while Team USA was relegated to silver behind the Jamaicans, no one could fault Felix whose scintillating third leg split of 47.72 prompted dreamy speculation of what future 400m times could be produced by one of the greatest and most versatile sprinters of all time. Placing a capper on an outstanding year, Felix still found time to capture the Diamond League trophy in her beloved specialty - the 200m.

Bartoletta_Tianna-NycDL15.jpgTianna Bartoletta, photo by PhotoRun.net

#3. Tianna Bartoletta. Some athletes simply are money players who thrive in the heat of championship competition. Tianna Bartoletta is one of them. In this year's world championship long jump final, the multiple-time global gold medalist was able to summon a magnificent 6th round PR leap of 7.14m [23'5¼"]. That clutch world-leading mark - which places her as the #4 American of all time - moved her from bronze to gold and allowed her to capture her second world championship LJ title on the 10th anniversary of her first such victory. The former University of Tennessee star - one of those very rare athletes who is a world class performer in both an individual track event [100m] and an individual field event - concluded the year with the top two long jump performances on the world list and easily captured yet another Diamond League trophy. Bartoletta - who shows no signs of slowing down - has demonstrated great longevity by competing at the world-class, medal-winning level in two explosive events for more than a decade.

Dibaba_GenzebeH-Carlsbad15.jpgGenzebe Dibaba, photo by PhotoRun.net

#2.Genzebe Dibaba. Racing frequently in 2015, Genzebe Dibaba showed incredible durability and range in both the 1500m and the 5000m. Although the Ethiopian evidenced some fatigue as the season was winding down, her several shining moments will long be remembered. While her attempt to double back in the 5000m in Beijing proved unsuccessful, Dibaba was an easy winner of the Diamond League trophy in the 5K event. In her 1500m performances this year, Dibaba was untouchable - performing brilliantly in a carefully-rabbited 1500m world record assault in Monaco. Running virtually alone during the second half of that race, Dibaba's winning time of 3:50.07 succeeded in taking down the previous global standard of 3:50.46 set by China's Yunxia Qu nearly 22 years earlier. But Dibaba demonstrated she is also a racer - not merely a record chaser - as she competed against the best in the world and struck gold in winning the world championship 1500m title in Beijing.

Wlodarczyk_Anita1b-Beijing15.jpgAnita Wlodarczyk, photo by PhotoRun.net

#1 Anita Wlodarczyk. What can you say about a track & field athlete who was widely recognized as the female athlete of the previous year and then returns to perform even more brilliantly in the current year? Such is the case with Polish hammer throw phenom Anita Wlodarczyk. Victorious in 18 consecutive hammer throw finals dating back to July 8th, 2014, Wlodarczyk simply dominated the hammer this year. The Polish star - who has 9 of the top 13 heaves of all time - posted the top 8 marks on this year's world list. Her world record throw of 80.85m [265'3"] - nearly 5 meters farther than 2015's #2 performer. Continued performances such as these might inspire the Diamond League brain trust to reconsider restoring the hammer throw to its 14-meet series of global gatherings. Perhaps Wlodarczyk's only misstep in 2015 was the unfortunate timing of her world record performance. Had the 30 year old uncorked her record toss in the Bird's Nest just three weeks later, she would have netted an additional world record bonus of $100K on top of her $60K winner's share. But that gaffe - merely fiscal in nature - is wholly insufficient to tarnish her otherwise gleaming 2015 athletic record. Performing even better than last year when she took AOY honors, Polish hammer star Anita Wlodarczyk is the 2015 female track and field athlete of the year.

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Dave Hunter, who ran his marathon P.R. of 2:31:40 on the highly revered Boston Marathon course back in the Paleozoic era, is a track and field announcer, broadcaster, and journalist. To find out more about Dave, please visit www.trackandfieldhunter.com.

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