Pole vault world record holder Mondo Duplantis became the youngest ever winner of the male Athlete of the Year Award with Yulimar Rojas being recognised for breaking the world indoor triple jump record
They are their countries' first recipients of the prestigious athletics award annouced during the virtual World Athletics Awards on Saturday (5 December).
At 20, Duplantis is the youngest ever winner of the Male Athlete of the Year Award after twice breaking the absolute world record (6.17m and 6.18m) in February before producing the highest outdoor vault in history (6.15m) in September.
“I just wanted to go out there and show the world what I am capable of." - Mondo Duplantis on winning the World Athlete of the Year Award.
"I don’t need to be the face of the sport. I just try to go there and jump high and break world records," he added.
The other male finalists included distance world record holder Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda, Norway's Karsten Warholm, Germany's Johannes Vetter and Ryan Crouser of the USA.
Yulimar Rojas who broke the world indoor triple jump record with a leap of 15.43m, finished the shortened 2020 season undefeated in four triple jump competitions indoors and outdoors.
She was delighted and surprised by the award that saw her picked ahead of Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia, Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, Jamaica's Olympic champion sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah, and Dutch long-distance star Sifan Hassan.
"I truly cannot believe this. I did not expect to be the winner This victory means a lot for me and all of those who work with me," said the double world champion.
"Being the best athlete of the year is an additional inspiration for 2021. This gives me a lot of strength to keep on track with my career. I feel extremely grateful and even more motivated."
Duplantis had another reason to celebrate as his parents and coaches, Helena and Greg Duplantis, earned the coaching achievement of the year award.
“It is almost surreal already, a world record is hard to process,” said Greg Duplantis about his son’s accomplishment in 2020 highlighted by the two pole vault two world records set within one week.
“What makes this award so special for me, is to be able to give them this as I am nothing without them,” said the 21-year-old Duplantis, who presented the award to his parents in Louisiana.
“Everything that I have achieved up to this point, it would never have been without them guiding me through all this time ever since I was a little kid.” - Mondo Duplantis.