European Athletics have announced the 12 male and 12 female athletes that a ‘panel of experts’ nominated for the inaugural Golden Tracks trophies to be awarded to the male and female European Athletes of the Year. This year, the European Athletics Golden Tracks ceremony will be televised at an awards evening in Baku, Azerbaijan, on 11th October.
For choosing the nominees, the most important criteria for selectors were the performances of athletes at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich this year, and those who won gold medals were given precedence.
The European Athletics websites states that ‘the judges were aware that not everyone will agree with their decision’ but ‘the essence of elite athletics is to produce your best on the big occasion.’
Three of the twelve male athletes nominated were Brits; Greg Rutherford, Martyn Rooney and Mo Farah, who have all had successful seasons and won gold medals respectively at the European Championships in Zurich, after Farah and Rutherford had already picked up gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow earlier in the season.
Also nominated was French athlete Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad who was controversially stripped of his gold medal in the 3000m steeplechase in Zurich, to pick up a gold in the 1500m just a few days later at the event in a European-leading time. His teammate and pole-vault World Record holder Renaud Lavillenie has also been nominated after defending his European title in Zurich. Lavillenie had a 21-competition long winning streak this season, and was also the Diamond Race winner.
Bogdan Bondarenko, who has played a crucial part in this season’s spectacular show of high-jumping competitions, was nominated after winning the European Championships. The 2013 world champion also equalled the European record of 2.42m in the Diamond League in New York.
Eilidh Child was the only British female to be nominated for a Golden Tracks award after a her victory in Zurich as well as a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and winning the Glasgow Diamond League in a European leading time of 54.39 seconds.
Dafne Schippers, who has this year burst onto the international sprint scene, still known as a heptathlete, was nominated after an incredible 100m and 200m double in Zurich, with a national record in the 200m.
Adam Gemili and Matthew Hudson-Smith are the Brits amongst the 12 male athletes nominated for the Rising Stars award. 20 year-old Gemili took the European 200m title in a rapid time of 19.98 seconds as well as taking a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games.
Still only 19 years-old, Hudson-Smith brought home a silver medal in the 400m at Zurich, in an impressive time of 44.75 seconds as well gold in the 4x400m relay. Additionally, he anchored the victorious England team at the Commonwealth Games, all in his first competitive 400m season.
The British female athletes nominated for the Rising Star award are Dina Asher-Smith, Morgan Lake and Katarina Johnson-Thompson. Asher-Smith has had an amazing season; winning the 100m at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Oregon, making the 200m European Athletics final in Zurich and running 11.14 seconds in June, the fastest European Junior time of the year.
17 year-old Morgan Lake was nominated for the Rising Star award after taking two gold medals in the high jump and heptathlon at the World Junior Championships in Oregon. Katarina Johnson-Thompson was also nominated for the award after winning the respected multi-events competition in Gozis early on in the season with a new PB and world-leading total of 6682 points. Unfortunately the 21 year-old had to cut her season short due to injury.
The winner of each the male and female award, amongst nominees from 13 different countries, will be decided by fans, media, European Athletics Member Federations and an expert European Athletics panel. Fans are able to vote through the European Athletics Facebook page and mobile app. The results from each group of voters count for 25% of the athlete’s final score.
Any athlete who has previously received a two-year doping ban cannot be nominated for the Golden Tracks. Voting closes on Friday 3rd October at noon CET.