By Mike Rowbottom

mo farah_16-10-12October 16 - Great Britain's Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah were recognised as winners of the 2012 European Athlete of the Year Awards at the European Athletics Awards Night in St Julians, Malta.

Sweden's Angelica Bengtsson and the Czech Republic's Pavel Maslák were presented with the European Athletics Rising Star Awards by European Athletics President Hansjörg Wirz during the ceremony that was the highlight of the three-day annual European Athletics Convention.

More than 270 key decision makers from the 50 European Athletics Member Federations had gathered for the annual meeting.

European Athletics_Rising_Star_Award_winners_Pavel_Maslk_of_theEuropean Athletics Rising Star Award winners Pavel Maslák and Angelica Bengtsson with Hansjörg Wirz

Multi-events superstar Ennis, who became only the third British woman – after compatriots Sally Gunnell and Dame Kelly Holmes – to be honoured as the European Athlete of the Year, was thrilled to be in distinguished company.

"It's a great honour to win the European Athlete of the Year Award, I am very excited and I would like to thank everyone who has voted for me," Ennis said.

"It has been a great year with the Olympics.

"It's a pity that I could not be in Malta in person to collect my award, since I have started my winter training, but my coach (Toni Minichiello) will be there to receive it on my behalf."

Looking to the future, Ennis added: "Next year my main goal is the World Championships in Moscow.

"2014 will be a big year too, I am preparing for the European Athletics Championships in Zurich, that will be my main focus for the year."

European Athletics_President_Hansjrg_Wirz__Toni_Minichiello_Jessica_Ennis_coachJessica Ennis' coach Toni Minichiello (left) picked up her European Athlete of the Year Award

Ennis overcame the burden of being the poster girl of London 2012 to win the heptathlon gold medal on home turf at the Olympic Games.

Her score at the London 2012 Olympic Games, in a British record of 6,955 points, moved her up to number four on the European all-time list and fifth on the global ranking.

British middle distance star Farah, who is based out of Portland in the United States, could not attend the Awards night due to his training commitments.

International Associations of Athletics Federation (IAAF) vice-president and London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe received the award on his behalf.

The 28-year-old Londoner is just the second athlete to be named European Athlete of the Year for a second consecutive year – following on from Swedish triple-jumper Christian Olsson in 2003 and 2004 – after his phenomenal double success over 5,000 metres and 10,000m at London 2012.

Farah (pictured top), 29, defended his European 5,000m title in Helsinki to become the first man to win consecutive gold medals over the distance at the European Athletics Championships.

"I am delighted to be voted as the European Athlete of the Year for 2012," he said.

"I have always enjoyed competing at the European Championships and this year a victory in Helsinki put me in the right frame of mind ahead of the Olympics.

"In the coming years I want to win as many medals as I can, so I will keep competing at the Europeans.

"Next year, the European Athletics Team Championships are in Gateshead and I am looking forward to that.

"Finally, I would like to thank European Athletics and everyone who voted for me.

"It's a pity that I could not be there tonight."

Sebastian Coe_recieves_Mo_Farahs_European_Athlete_of_the_Year_AwardSebastian Coe (left) receives the European Athlete of the Year Award on behalf of Mo Farah

Swedish pole vault prodigy Bengtsson became the first athlete of either gender from her country to be voted European Athletics Rising Star.

The 20-year-old has been consistently breaking records in the last few years and 2012 was no different.

This summer, she defended her world junior title in Barcelona and then added a centimetre to her world junior outdoor best when she scaled a Swedish senior record 4.58m in Sollentuna.

"I am very excited and feel honoured being voted European Athletics Rising Star," Bengtsson said.

"I am looking to compete at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Göteborg next year.

"2012 was a very good year for me, I enjoyed competing in Helsinki, and winning at the world juniors in Barcelona was special.

"I got used to the seniors circuit this year and I feel I am ready for the challenge."

The male European Athletics Rising Star award was presented to 400m runner Maslák, who is also the first athlete from his country to be honoured with the title.

The 21-year-old secured the most important victory of his career so far when he claimed the 400m gold medal at the 2012 European Athletics Championships, as well as setting a national record when he ran 44.91 seconds during the heats at the London 2012 Olympics.

"This is a great honour for me and for the people of Czech Republic, I thank everyone who voted for me," Maslák said.

"This year was indeed a very special one for me, winning a gold medal in Helsinki and becoming the first athlete from my country to break the 45-second barrier in the 400m means a lot to me.

"I will work hard to keep getting better next year."

Pavel Maslk_of_Czech_Republic_European_Athletics_Rising_StarPavel Maslák (L) speaks after receiving his European Athletics Rising Star

Two other important presentations were also made at the Gala.

Norway's Charlotte Svenson received a plaque as the overall winner of the 2012 European Athletics Innovation Awards for her project entitled Ung:Leder – To create the Volunteers of Tomorrow.

Tina Torop of Estonia and Slavko Črne of Slovenia received the first two of the European Athletics Coaching Award from President Wirz as representatives of the 51 award winners from 30 countries.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]