For the fourth time in five years, Usain Bolt is the IAAF's male Athlete of the Year. On the women's side, Allyson Felix broke through to earn her first female Athlete of the Year title. Felix's victory was the first for an American since Sanya Richards-Ross gained the award in 2009. Bolt's selection gives Jamaica five men's titles in seven years, beginning with Asafa Powell's 2006 victory.
I don't imagine many were surprised at either selection. Felix was my choice for female Athlete of the Year following her triple gold medal performance in the London Olympics. She ran the two fastest 200 meters of the year, topped by her 21.69-second performance at the U.S. Olympic Trials, won the Olympic 200 meters in 21.88 and ran on two victorious Olympic relay teams, including the world record-setting 4 x 100-meter squad.
Bolt became the only man to successfully defend the Olympic 100- and 200-meter titles and ran on the Jamaican 4 x 1 team that also set a world mark. Bolt's Olympic finals times were the world-leading performances in both the 100 and 200 this year.
Previously, I picked Aries Merritt as my choice for male Athlete of the Year, and he wasn't totally ignored on awards night, earning the IAAF's Inspirational award. Merritt won the World Indoor 60-meter hurdles, the Olympic 110 hurdles, then set a world 110 hurdles record of 12.80 seconds.