From Inside the Games

Eliud Kipchoge, the first man to run the marathon in under two hours, and Dalilah Muhammad, who twice broke the world 400-metres hurdles record in a year that saw her become world champion, have been named the respective male and female athletes of the year at the World Athletics Awards here.

Kipchoge, who also won this award in 2018, was honoured at the end of a year in which he had retained his London Marathon title and then become the first runner to better two hours for the marathon in the specially staged INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna.

While Kipchoge’s effort was not allowable for record purposes – given that he had no opposition and was given regular shifts of pacers in formations calculated to reduce his wind resistance to the lowest possible levels – it was an extraordinary demonstration of human endeavour and endurance which ended with him crossing the line in one hour 59min and 40sec.

“I hope I inspired a younger generation,” Kipchoge, who was unable to attend the ceremony, told the audience via live link.

He paid tribute to the team that had allowed him to earn his achievement, adding: “It has been massively and mutually successful.”

Muhammad broke the world record for the first time at the United States Trials – despite having fallen and concussed herself in training 10 days earlier – with a time of 52.20sec, improving Yuliya Pechonkina’s 16-year-old mark of 52.34.

Later in the year, tracked by young US rival Sydney McLaughlin, Muhammad, already Olympic champion, completed her gold medal set at the World Championships.

“It’s been a tough year but it has just come home excellently,” she said.

“I never ever imagined coming home to this.”

Father Colm O’Connell received the Coaching Achievement award, which honoured the 43 years he had spent in Kenya training thousands of young male and female athletes.

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