You voted in your thousands in our athletes of the year poll and here are your choices
Elaine Thompson-Herah and Eliud Kipchoge are your picks as the AW international athletes of 2021, with Keely Hodgkinson and Josh Kerr voted top British senior athletes at the end of a high-quality year of competition.
Our annual poll almost certainly saw the highest number of votes in its history as you selected your favourite athletes in 13 different categories.
You can read more in the December issue of AW magazine, which includes interviews with many of the winners. But, for a quick glance at the basic results, read on.
1 Elaine Thompson-Herah
2 Sifan Hassan
3 Faith Kipyegon
Thompson-Herah won 100m, 200m and 4x100m golds in Tokyo and ran 10.54 for 100m to go No.2 on the world all-time rankings. She proved an emphatic winner of this category with twice as manny votes as runner-up Sifan Hassan.
“I have never been this fast,” she says. “I’m very happy with what I’ve accomplished in 2021.”
1 Eliud Kipchoge
2 Andre de Grasse
3 Karsten Warholm
Kipchoge won his second Olympic gold in the marathon in Tokyo and beat off competition from not only Andre De Grasse and Karsten Warholm but Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Mondo Duplantis, Ryan Crouser and others to win this category.
“It felt incredibly special,” he said on his victory at the Games in August. “I am now one of the three athletes in history to have won the Olympic marathon twice.”
1 Keely Hodgkinson
2 Laura Muir
3 Daryll Neita
After winning the European indoor 800m title, Hodgkinson went on to take Olympic silver in Tokyo and she tells AW that 2021 exceeded her expectations.
“At the beginning of the year my goals were that I wanted to break two minutes and I wanted to get that world indoor record because I was pretty close to it the year before and this was my last year to do it,” she said.
“I wanted to try and make the Olympic team, but with the hopes of maybe winning the European Junior Championships. That all kind of got flipped upside down – in the best way possible.”
1 Josh Kerr
2 Chris Thompson
3 Elliot Giles
Endurance runners dominated with Olympic bronze medallist Kerr beating marathon man Thompson and 800m talent Giles to first place in our readers’ poll.
Looking back on the Olympic 1500m final, Kerr said: “You don’t get handed anything on a day when the Olympic record is beaten by three seconds. You have to go out and grab what you think is yours so everything I had was just laid out on that track in Tokyo.”
International Junior Female
1 Christine Mboma
2 Athing Mu
3 Briana Williams
The Namibian runner who switched from 400m to 200m in 2021 due to DSD regulations proved a landslide winner in this category. She won Olympic silver in a world under-20 record of 21.81 and also took the world junior title and Diamond League final victory.
“I am so grateful to AW for this award,” she said. “I couldn’t have imagined a better year for my first international season. Thank you for recognising my achievements.”
International Junior Male
1 Sasha Zhoya
2 Erriyon Knighton
3 Gabriel Wallmark
“For now, I’m happy with what I’ve done but we’ve seen a lot of people who have done well in the junior ranks who haven’t made it to the next level,” Zhoya adds.
“If I can put my name in the senior books and do well at a major championships then I can look back on what I did as a junior in the regard that was progression to my full career.
British Junior Female
1 Keely Hodgkinson
2 Joy Eze
3 Megan Keith
After winning the senior award, Hodgkinson was pretty much a shoo-in for the under-20 prize and she ended up a resounding winner ahead of sprinter Eze and endurance runner Keith with hammer thrower Charlotte Payne a close fourth.
British Junior Male
1 Toby Makoyawo
2 Max Burgin
3 Edward Faulds
A competitive category saw European under-20 100m gold medallist Makoyawo beat 800m man Burgin, despite the latter only racing once all summer when he ran a European record to win in Ostrava.
“I feel very grateful to win an award like this,” says Makoyawo, who is based in the USA. “It’s amazing knowing there are people out there that I don’t know but have supported my journey and recognise me as someone who is talented. It motivates me to continue working hard to reach my potential because now I know people are taking inspiration from it.”
British Masters Female
1 Lisa Thomas
2 Sally Cooke
3 Yuko Gordon
Excelling at everything from 300m hurdles through to 3000m steeplechase, the W55 athlete Thomas beat W50 sprinter Cooke and W70 marathoner Gordon to the top prize.
British Masters Male
1 Joe Appiah
2 Alastair Walker
3 Derek Jackson
Appiah set an M50 UK record in the 100m hurdles this year and topped the national rankings at long jump and triple jump. He dedicates his award to Jason Carty, a fellow veteran sprinter who died this year, adding: “The reason I have been successful is my incredible support network of family, coaches, physios, therapists and sponsors, plus my amazing training group at Kent AC.”
Para Athlete Female
1 Hannah Cockroft
2 Sophie Hahn
3 Fleur Jong
Enjoying a fine Paralympics with T34 100m and 800m golds, Cockroft saw off the challenge of British sprinter Sophie Hahn in a close contest with Dutch 100m sprinter and long jumper Jong in third.
In the T34 100m Cockroft broke her own world record and told AW: “I knew that I could win if I had a good race but I didn’t think those times were in me.”
Para Athlete Male
1 Ntando Mahlangu
2 Marcel Hug
3 Owen Miller
The South African beat Britain’s Richard Whitehead in the T61 200m at the Paralympics and set a world record in the T63 long jump. He said: “I’m grateful for how things unfolded. This year has been beautiful for me and I can now look back and think about the good times.”
Mel Watman Performance of the Year
1 Elaine Thompson-Herah’s 10.54 100m
2 Karsten Warholm’s Tokyo world record
3 Gianmarco Tamberi and Mutaz Essa Barshim’s shared high jump gold
The positions in this new category which has been named in memory of AW’s long-serving editor see-sawed around during the voting period. Eventually as the deadline closed, though, Thompson-Herah’s super-fast 100m run at the Pre Classic in Eugene came out on top.
» Read more on our athletes of the year in our December magazine, which you can buy here