Two 34-year-olds were honoured here tonight as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Athlete of the Year awards went to Kenya’s marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge and Colombia’s multiple world and Olympic triple jump champion Caterine Ibarguen.
In introducing the evening’s celebrations, IAAF President Sebastian Coe made what might or might not have been a sideways reference to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s recent decision to re-admit the Russian Anti-Doping Agency to the fold.
Addressing the many athletes present, Coe said: "You are the beginning and the end of what we do, and when I survey the global landscape of sport this year this has not been obviously apparent.
"In this sport, we do more than pay lip service."
On September 16, Kipchoge became the first man to run the marathon in less than 2 hours 02min as he won in Berlin in 2 hours 01min 39sec - way inside the mark of 2:02:57 set at the 2014 Berlin race by fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto.
It was the greatest leap forward for the event since 1967, and this was the first time this award has gone to a marathon runner.
Asked earlier in the day what it would mean to him if he we won the award, he responded: "It will mean a lot of people believe in my story, my hard work, in my training and what I am doing."
. @EliudKipchoge 🇰🇪 wins the Male Athlete of the Year Award 2018— IAAF (@iaaforg) December 4, 2018
The Kenyan destroyed the marathon world record in Berlin with 2:01:39, and won his third London Marathon title #AthleticsAwards pic.twitter.com/ZDkMzvAPio
A year after losing her world title in London, Ibarguen was unbeaten all season in both triple jump and long jump, which she took up again in order to take part in the Central American and Caribbean Games, and she finished the season winning the IAAF Diamond League titles in both disciplines, which she had to contest in Zurich and Brussels on consecutive days.
She finished her season by winning both events at the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava.
Her day had not run to plan as her bags had been lost on her flight over and she had to spend two hours rushing around the shopping arcades of Monte Carlo in search of a suitable dress to wear.
"It wasn’t exactly easy because we were walking around quite a lot, but I had support from the IAAF and my management team, Global, and so we were able to solve this problem," Ibarguen said.
"I'm happy with what we’ve found."
She was also happy with the Award she received.
"I am struggling to stand up because my legs are shaking so much," Ibarguen, who had received an award as Colombia's top sportwoman a day earlier, said.
. @tripleCIbarguen 🇨🇴, the Queen of parallel jumps, wins the Female Athlete of the Year Award 2018— IAAF (@iaaforg) December 4, 2018
The Colombian completed a historic long jump / triple jump @Diamond_League and Continental Cup double-double, and ended the year with the triple jump world lead#AthleticsAwards pic.twitter.com/ytEtQtK1Ti
Strongly favoured too in the men's award running was France's world decathlon champion Kevin Mayer.
Bitter disappointment at the European Athletics Championships in Berlin, where Mayer fouled out in one of his strongest disciplines, the long jump, served as massive motivation for his finishing flourish in Talence, where he set a new mark of 9,126 points to eclipse Ashley Eaton’s Beijing mark of 9,045.
The IAAF Male Rising Star award went to Sweden’s meteoric 18-year-old pole vaulter Armand "Mondo" Duplantis, who won the world under-20 title and then the European title with a clearance of 6.05 metres – putting him equal second on the all-time outdoor list.
"It’s an honour to be up here in front of the best athletes in the world," Duplantis, who was also one of the five nominations for the main male award, told the co-host of the event, his friend and rival Renaud Lavillenie.
"It’s a great honour to be talking to the world record holder - who I beat a couple of times this year.
"Pole vaulting is a very strange, unique event.
"There’s a lot that goes into it - especially in Berlin, where all the stars seemed to align for that meet and everybody seemed to feed of the energy.”
"How high can you go and is my world record safe?" asked Lavillenie.
"I think I can jump higher than you," said Duplantis with a grin.
Cleared 6.05m to go number two all-time in pole vault outdoors ✅— IAAF (@iaaforg) December 4, 2018
European senior champion ✅
World U20 champion with championship record ✅
🇸🇪 @mondohoss600 wins the Male Rising Star Award for 2018#AthleticsAwards pic.twitter.com/KCJgBK24ep
The winner of the Female Rising Star award was Sydney McLaughlin of the United States, who produced a world junior indoor 400 metres record of 50.36sec in March, and followed up two months later with an outdoor 400m hurdles mark of 52.75 - a world junior record and the fastest time recorded this year.
A three-way voting process has determined the finalists in the men’s and women’s awards.
The IAAF Council and the IAAF Family cast their votes by email, while fans voted online via the IAAF's social media platforms. The IAAF Council’s vote counted for 50 per cent of the result, while the IAAF Family’s votes and the public votes each counted for 25% of the final result. Voting closed on November 13.