Swedish pole vaulter Armando “Mondo” Duplantis and Venezuelan triple jumper Yulimar Rojas were on Saturday declared male and female World Athletes of the Year at the World Athletics Awards 2020. Duplantis is the youngest ever athlete to win the award.
Duplantis, 21, broke the world record in the pole vault twice, topping 6.17m and 6.18m on back-to-back weekends in February, just a few weeks before the global Coronavirus pandemic forced tournaments around the world to be cancelled or postponed. When competitions finally resumed, Duplantis capped his season and produced the highest outdoor vault of all time (6.15m) and finished the year undefeated in 16 competitions.
“It was a really strange season, for me and everybody, but I was able to put it together and get some pretty good results. I just wanted to go out there and show the world what I was capable of and put my name out there with some big performances. I was able to do that and had some good heights, especially during the indoor season,” said Duplantis.
“When everything got shut down and things were pushed back to the end of the season, I was able to find some good form there as well which, for me, was more impressive than my indoor season because I’d had two months off,” he said.
Rojas broke the South American indoor triple jump record in her first competition of the year, reaching 15.03m in Metz, France. In her next competition, at the World Athletics Indoor Tour meeting in Madrid, she cleared 15.43m in the final round of the competition to break the world indoor record by seven centimetres.
She competed just twice outdoors this year, winning the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Monaco and again in Castellon, Spain, where she sailed 14.71m, the farthest leap in the world outdoors this year.
“I honestly didn’t expect this, I really cannot believe it,” said Rojas, who received the Rising Star Award in 2017.
“It is such a joy and I’m filled with happiness. Just being one of the finalists felt like winning to me; being nominated among other exceptional athletes was already a wonderful achievement.”