October 4 - Pavel Maslák, the 21-year-old Czech Republic athlete who won the European 400 metres title this year, has been voted winner of the men's 2012 European Athletics Rising Star award, finishing ahead of Britain's 18-year-old sprinter Adam Gemili.
Gemili won 100m gold at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Junior Championship in a competition record of 10.05sec, the second fastest junior time ever run, and reached the London 2012 semi-finals, where he ran 10.06.
But Maslák got the nod over him for his achievement in winning the senior European title in Helsinki, where he clocked 45.24sec on a cool evening in the Finnish capital.
The Czech sprinter follows in the wake of previous winners David Storl (Germany, 2011), Teddy Tamgho (France, 2010), Christophe Lemaitre (France, 2009), Raphael Holzdeppe (Germany, 2008) and Andrew Howe (Italy, 2007).
France's sprinter Jimmy Vicaut, silver medallist in the European 100m, finished third, ahead of Henrik Ingebrigtsen of Norway and the Russian pair of Sergey Shubenkov and Sergei Morgunov.
Britain's discus thrower Lawrence Okoye was seventh, with Andrei Churyla of Belarus eighth, Dino Bosnjak of Croatia ninth and Wilhem Belocian of France tenth.
Earlier in the season, Maslák was the only European to be involved in the final over two laps of the track at the World Indoor Championships in the Istanbul Arena in March, having set a Czech indoor 400m record in 46.14 seconds in the Belgian city of Gent in February.
Despite having had some success over 200m as a junior, making the 2009 European Athletics Junior Championships and 2010 World Championships finals before getting on the podium with a 200m bronze medal at the 2011 European Athletics Under-23 Championships, his success indoors confirmed to Maslák that his talents were better suited to the longer distance.
The decision to move up to 400m, never fully confirmed until the spring, was shown to be the right one when he made a big improvement to the long-standing Czech 400m record of 45.77, which had stood since 1978, when he ran 45.31 in his first outing over one lap of the track in Prague in early May.
In his next 400m race, at the European Athletics Outdoor Premium Meeting in Torino on June 8, he made a further improvement to 45.17.
After winning in Helsinki, Maslák produced his third national record when he clocked 44.91 in his heat at the London 2012 Olympics, becoming the first Czech runner under the elite 45-second barrier, before finishing fifth in his semi-final in 45.15.
Maslák was back breaking records at the end of the season. He got the last item on his "wish list" and improved upon Jiří Vojtik's four-year-old former national 200m record of 20.60, which he had equalled in June, with 20.59 at the Czech club championships in Tabor on September 8.
Maslák will be presented with his European Athletics Rising Star award at the European Athletics Awards Night in St Julians, Malta, on Saturday, October 13 alongside the women's Rising Star winner Angelica Bengtsson and the European Athlete of the Year winners, to be announced in the coming days.
Fans, media and European Athletics Member Federations were invited to vote for the European Athletics Rising Star on the European Athletics website.
Along with the votes from a panel of experts, each group of voters' results counted for one quarter of the athlete's final score.
The shortlist for the award included stars from this year's Olympic Games in London, Helsinki 2012 European Athletics Championships, Istanbul 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships, and other young athletes who performed exceptionally well this year.
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