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World Athletics faces backlash for last-minute change to Athlete of the 12 months Awards


After months of dialogue and voting on World Athletics’ social media pages for his or her prestigious World Athlete of the 12 months Award, the governing physique of operating/observe and subject did one thing nobody may have predicted on the awards evening on Monday in Monaco. For the primary time in 35 years, the award was given to 3 males and three girls, and followers throughout the game are outraged.

As a substitute of giving out a males’s and ladies’s World Athlete of the 12 months award, as they’ve executed previously, they divided it into three classes: Monitor Athlete of the 12 months, Discipline Athlete of the 12 months, and Non-Stadia Athlete of the 12 months. Religion Kipyegon and Noah Lyles gained the Monitor award, whereas pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis and triple jumper Yulimar Rojas gained the Discipline award. Non-Stadia accolades went to the boys’s and ladies’s new world report holders, Kelvin Kiptum and Tigist Assefa.

On-line feedback

The Web was not impressed with World Athletics altering the format on the final minute (after the voting). Many thought deserving athletes like Kipyegon, Lyles and Kiptum have been robbed of their glory and success. “What’s the level of getting finalists if everyone wins some class that wasn’t introduced prior? It ought to have been clear you might have classes from the beginning, not on the ultimate day,” a fan tweeted.

“Such a ineffective ceremony,” tweeted one other fan. Monitor and subject dash legend Michael Johnson even tweeted, “Am I the one one that thinks having six athletes of the yr is a nasty thought? Am I lacking one thing?”

World Athletics’ reasoning

World Athletics stated its resolution to divide the award into three classes got here from followers and council members, who commented that it was “extremely laborious” to restrict the vote to only one athlete. That’s what folks say once they have a troublesome resolution to make, that means that World Athletics selected extremely deserving finalists–not that they need to break up the award. World Athletics president Sebastian Coe took it in a different way: “The depth of expertise and the excellent performances in our sport this yr greater than justify the enlargement of the World Athletics Awards to acknowledge the accomplishments of those six athletes throughout a variety of disciplines. It’s only becoming that they be acknowledged because the athletes of the yr of their respective fields,” Coe stated in a press launch.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe on the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Ore. Photograph: Kevin Morris

Poor communication from World Athletics

When World Athletics named the ten nominees for the award in late October, they didn’t point out they have been planning to divide the award 3 ways. Even once they narrowed it down to 5 finalists, there was no indication it might be break up. Most followers would have been OK with three AOTY awards if they’d recognized throughout the voting course of that that might be the case.

In a sport that’s all the time trying to develop and garner extra consideration, going towards the grain of the neighborhood and fan votes shouldn’t be a strategy to appeal to new folks to the game, particularly heading into an Olympic yr. Though it’s straightforward to grasp World Athletics’ reasoning for splitting the award–it’s laborious to match athletes of various disciplines, particularly since a pole vaulter like world champion Duplantis can solely win accolades in a single self-discipline, whereas Lyles or Kipyegon may win medals in two or three occasions. Nonetheless, World Athletics had three alternatives to tell the general public they’d be splitting the awards this yr, and I’m certain fewer followers can be disillusioned within the consequence.

Think about watching the Tremendous Bowl and seeing them hand out an offensive, defensive and particular groups MVP. It might make the award meaningless. 



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