French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie (left) and shot putter Valerie Adams from New Zealand display their athlete of the year awards.
MONACO — Pole vault indoor record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France and shot putter Valerie Adams of New Zealand were named world athletes of the year on Friday.
The 28-year-old Lavillenie succeeded Usain Bolt after clearing 6.16 meters to take Sergei Bubka’s 21-year-old mark in February. The Frenchman also won 21 of the 22 competitions he entered this year, securing victories in the Diamond Race and at the European Championships.
”This season couldn’t have been better. This is really the dream season for me. I can only enjoy this and be very grateful to the whole athletics family,” Lavillenie said. ”I think the world record contributed to the award, but I won other competitions too. I wasn’t as good as Valerie, I lost one competition, but 21 out of 22 is not too bad in an event which is quite unpredictable.”
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Lavillenie finished ahead of Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim and marathon world record holder Dennis Kipruto Kimetto of Kenya.
Adams, the Olympic champion, was unbeaten while winning gold at the indoor worlds and Commonwealth Games. The other women’s nominees were Ethiopian distance runner Genzebe Dibaba and Dutch double sprint European champion Dafne Schippers.
”This is the icing on the cake for 2014,” she said. ”It’s been a year that’s been physically challenging but I’m proud to be here for New Zealand and Oceania. There’s been a lot of pain but I love what I do, I love competing. I’m mentally strong and I’ve a high pain threshold so that makes it easier.”