Why Adams should have been named AOY

The parochialism associated with the awarding of the IAAF World Athlete of the Year prizes immediately handicapped shot-putter Valerie Adams’ prospects of winning the award in the women’s category in Monte Carlo last night. Since the award inaugurated in 1988, no female thrower has ever been awarded this accolade while the last time a male field-eventer won the award on the men’s side came back in 2000 when Jan Zelezny took the honours.

It’s hard to find a single blemish on Adams’ season in which she went unbeaten (again), won the world outdoor title (again) and the Diamond League jackpot (again). Her consistency was spectacular too, as she surpassed the 20m-barrier in every competition she lined up for. One has to wonder what more she has to do to win the accolade! And it does beg the question will a female thrower ever win this prize because surely if this trend was to be broken, Adams would be the athlete to break the glass ceiling.

Adams is atypical for a thrower. Only a handful of throwers from English-speaking nations have dominated their event and this understandably boosts her marketability and international profile and while hers might not be on par with the sport’s big hitters, her charisma and personality has made her a favourite with British crowds at the IAAF Diamond League stops in Birmingham and London, and across the globe. Her eloquent anti-doping stance surely points to a career in the IAAF or IOC hierarchy post-retirement.

Nobody would argue Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce didn’t have a superb season. She became the first athlete to win a sprint double at the World Championships since 1991 and this was complemented with success on the commercial circuit with Diamond League victories in the 100m and 200m.

It wasn’t a perfect season though. She performed when it mattered but, unlike Adams, a handful of losses still scattered her résumé, including defeats over 100m in London and over 200m in Monaco.

And should track athletes be credited for winning medals in multiple events, including relays, in deciding the destination of these awards? The inherent skill-set isn’t overtly different in contesting 100/200m and 5000/10,000m doubles while field eventers are restricted by (on the whole, at least) only specialising in singular events.

I should add it’s not just the throwers who get a raw deal. Race-walkers and road-runners rarely feature in the shake-up and while this prize is largely immaterial in defining one’s career, wouldn’t most athletics fans prefer a more sober approach and a more inclusive distribution of this accolade?

I hope Adams will be given the respect she deserves when Track & Field News, Athletics International and Athletics Weekly cast their decisions.

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11 thoughts on “Why Adams should have been named AOY

  1. Dowie Ty says:

    Lets be realistic and stop writing with sentiments attached ….. the other nominee Hejnova went unbeaten last season also so tour unbeaten logic just went through the window. Hejnova won a gold medal Adams won one too. the achievements of Hejnova mirror that of Adams so judging from what you have written Hejnova should have won too. there in no way a single gold medal is worth more than three or if you leave out the relays two gold medals in the glamour events of the sports. Adams would probably be a good discuss thrower this would add credentials to her already stellar resume and boost her chances as a two event athlete ….. the panel of voters got it right if Adams had won what would they tell Hejnova when her accomplishments were the same ……. three gold medals at the world championship …….pri(y)celess as in Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

  2. N. Hall says:

    Your attempt to marginalize Fraser-Pryce’s success in 2 events (100m & 200m) represents a substantial ignorance of the specialized training and discipline required to perform well at the highest level in each event.

    By your account Adams could simply use her Shot put training to walk into a discus competition and reap the best honors.

    The variance between their achievements was not even close. Your rant is preposterous and redundant.

    There is no way Adams excellent performance in 1 event trumps Fraser-Pryce’s 2.

    • It would behove you to do a little research before spouting such nonsense. The SP discus was impossible because they overlapped in Moscow precisely because they are very different events and unlike the 100/200 people very rarely attempt them. Rutgar Smith is the only person i can remember who has medalled in both (at different champs) and John Godina competed. I won’t bother naming everyone who has medalled or competed in 100/200 because we will be here all day, they are essentially the same event and historically any competent sprinter is able to do it if they want to.

  3. Excellent thoughts. IAAF biases drag our sport down.
    Too bad we don’t have a 3kg and 5kg competition like the sprinters, then Adams would have three golds in her drawer.

    • Not discus… very different. But a lighter and heavier SP competition would be equal to a 100m/ 200m double.

      • N. Hall says:

        Running the 100m requires a different race pattern/technique from running the 200m. Both disciplines are very different. The discus analogy is appropriate.
        Can you say the same for a heavier shot put? Would a change in technique be required?

      • If that is so, why are there so many 100m/ 200m doublers and few, if any, shot put/ discus doublers at the world class level?

      • N. Hall says:

        So your view is that the technique and training discipline for 100m and 200m is the same?

        I suggest you review the technique employed in the 1st 50m of the 100m, pay very close attention to Shelly-Ann’s race.

        Additionally, Kindly note, there is no curved track to negotiate in the 100m as there is in the 200m.

        Perhaps these things seem the same to you.

  4. I’m sorry my post was so unclear. I was asking you a question, not making a statement. You made a massive assumption that I have an opinion based on who knows what.

    Feel free to disengage from the conversation if you please… I’m enjoying it.

    Would you like to answer my question?

    • N. Hall says:

      My focus is on the view expressed that Valerie Adams should have clearly been named the IAAF Athlete of the Year for her excellent performance in one event.

      I do not believe she was close to the winner.

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