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Farah, Ennis Athletes of the Year

Jessica Ennis

Jessica Ennis

World championship medallists Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis have been named athletes of the year for the second year in succession by the British Athletics Writers’ Association at the organisation’s annual awards event today.

Last year Ennis was a unanimous pick for the prestigious athletics writers’ award, while Farah had to overcome close competition from 400m hurdler Dai Greene. This time it was Farah who was the runaway winner, the world 5000m champion taking the men’s award for the third time, while Ennis clinched the women’s title for the third year in succession winning by just two votes from world 1500m runner-up Hannah England.

Although the winners remain the same, the trophies will bear new names this year as the awards have been renamed in honour of two former and highly esteemed BAWA members. From 2011 they are called the John Rodda Award for male athlete of the year and the Cliff Temple Award for female athlete of the year.

For Farah this is the second major award in the space of a month after he was voted European athlete of the year in September. He is the first distance runner to win the prize three times, and joins all-time greats Lynn Davies, Sebastian Coe, Linford Christie and Jonathan Edwards as a triple winner.

The honour caps a magnificent year for the 28-year-old who not only took the 5000m title at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu but picked up silver in the 10,000m after a narrow defeat to Ethiopia’s Ibrahim Jeilan and retained his European Indoor 3000m crown in March. The US-based west Londoner also broke European records for 5000m indoors and 10,000m, improved the British 5000m record outdoors, and set a British half marathon record on his debut at the distance in New York.

“I’m delighted to win the BAWA Athlete of the Year Award,” said Farah from his American training base in Portland, Oregon. “I would like to thank all the writers who followed my journey, not only in 2011 but for the past 10 years.

“Thank you to those who voted for me for and I’m happy to have given you some good stories to write this year. I am fortunate to have a great team behind me and I thank them for their help in getting me to this level.

“As we plan for 2012 I hope to continue running well in what promises to be a very exciting year for sport in the UK. I know my fellow athletes are also training extremely hard and I urge all the media to get behind us as we try our best to run, jump and throw well in London next summer.

“Athletics is one of the toughest sports in the Olympic programme where medals are difficult to achieve but I hope that support of the home crowd will inspire us to do our best.”

World 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene was runner-up in the male vote for the second year in a row, while Phillips Idowu, the world triple jump silver medallist, was third.

Ennis retained the women’s trophy by a narrow margin after taking silver in the Daegu heptathlon behind Russia’s Tatyana Chernova. With three BAWA awards to her name, the 25-year-old from Sheffield is now only one behind another multi-eventer Denise Lewis, the 2000 Olympic heptathlon champion.

Ennis said: “It is great to once again be recognised by BAWA as their female athlete of the year.

“The heptathlon is not the easiest discipline to follow and the athletics writers really help the public follow my progress. I really appreciate the support they give me and look forward to seeing them all at my competitions in 2012.”

England finished second in the women’s vote after claiming a world silver medal with a dramatic finish in Daegu, while Helen Clitheroe was third following her heart-warming victory over 3000m at the European Indoor Championships.

Clitheroe’s Paris win also earned the 37-year-old from Preston a special honour as the first ever winner of the new BAWA Inspiration Award given in recognition of an athlete who made an outstanding performance in a single event, performed well against the odds, or is retiring after a long and distinguished career.

Jodie Williams won the Lilian Board Memorial Award for junior women for the third successive year. The sprinter from Herts Phoenix AC, who claimed the 100m and 200m double at the European Junior Championships in Tallinn, is the first athlete ever to win the junior award three times.

The Jim Coote Memorial Award for junior men went to Birchfield Harrier Adam Cotton who won the European junior 1500m title in July.

The Ron Pickering Memorial Award for Services to Athletics was presented to Dave Bedford, race director of the Virgin London Marathon. The former 10,000m world record holder will step down as race director, following next year’s event on Sunday 22 April, but will continue to work with the event.