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Posted: November 24, 2009  : Add to Mixx! Subscribe to stories like this

Athletics: News & Notes, Volume 9, Number 58

Richards named IAAF World Athlete of the Year

2009 Jesse Owens Award winner Sanya Richards has been named the women's World Athlete of the Year by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

The 2005 World Outdoor Championships silver medalist, Richards, who had been ranked as the world's #1 400m runner by Track & Field News over the last four years, entered the 2009 campaign looking to win the first World Outdoor Championships individual gold medal of her career.

The 2008 Olympic Games bronze medalist, Richards was even with Russia's Antonina Krivoshapka with 200 meters to go in the 400m final at the 2009 World Athletics Championships. After leaving Krivoshapka behind, Richards still had to hold off a strong challenge from Jamaica's Shericka Williams down the final stretch.

Richards broke away from Williams with 70 meters to go and ran by her lonesome the rest of the way to victory, crossing the finish line in the third-fastest time in the world this season, 49.00 seconds. With her victory, Richards joined Jearl Miles (2003, Stuttgart) as the only Americans ever to win the women's 400 meters at a World Outdoor Championships.

Richards, who ran the anchor leg on Team USA's gold medal winning 4x400m relay team (3:17.83, World leader) in Berlin, finished the season with the four-fastest women's 400m times in the world. Her world-leading time of 48.83 from her win in Brussels, Belgium, earned her a share of the IAAF Golden League Jackpot for the third time in her career. That performance equaled the second-best time ever by an American. National Track & Field Hall of Famer Valerie Brisco-Hooks first ran 48.83 in winning the gold medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.Additionally, Richards won 10 of the 11 finals races she competed in during the 2009 outdoor season.

"I was asked if this feeling would be the same as being World champion and it really is," said Richards, who had previously been named World Athlete of the Year in 2006. "Considering the other athletes I was up against this year, I know this must have been a really tough decision."

Jamaican sprint sensation Usain Bolt was named the men's World Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row, and Richards' mentor Clyde Hart was named Coach of the Year. The awards were presented Sunday evening at the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Gala in Monaco.

For more information on the 2009 World Athletics Gala in Monaco, visit: IAAF.org.

Williams named Public Service Award winner

2005 women's world 100m champion and 2004 Olympic silver medalist Lauryn Williams has been named one of ten winners of the 2009 Jefferson Awards for Public Service, which recognizes the top athletes that have given back to their community.

Organizations from across the sports world nominated 53 athletes from10 sports, with each athlete having a track record of community outreach as well as a sincere passion for service. Fan voting was conducted online or via text message, with over 25,000 votes logged during the process.

The 2006 USA Track & Field Visa Humanitarian of the Year for her contributions to victims of Hurricane Katrina, through Williams' generosity, 20 families received much-needed funding to get back on their feet.

Williams is also involved with Fun 4 Kidz, a program that helps underserved children in South Florida participate in after school classes, activities and leagues. As part of her involvement with Fun 4 Kidz, Lauryn launched the Lauryn Williams Mentoring Program, which pairs 25 kids with 25 student-athletes from the University of Miami football and track teams. She is currently learning sign language through her work with deaf children in Arcola Middle School.

Williams, who lives and trains in Miami, Fla., has been heavily involved with USA Track & Field's Win With Integrity program for many years, has been an Athlete Ambassador with Right to Play, an international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play to improve health, develop life skills and foster peace for children and communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world. Williams traveled to Sierra Leone to see the impact of the programs and share her positive attitude and love of sport with a group of children affected by war, poverty and disease.

Williams became inspired to help those in need when she received assistance from others in covering travel and equipment expenses during her track and field career. People who saw potential in her came to her aid, and that's when she realized how important it is to reach out to others.

Winners of the 2010 Jefferson Awards For Public Service Include:
Nnamdi Asomugha: Defensive back, Oakland Raiders, NFL
Curtis Granderson: All-star outfielder, Detroit Tigers, MLB
Stuart Holden: Forward, Houston Dynamo, MLS
Dwight Howard: All-star forward, Dallas Mavericks, NBA
Dirk Nowitzki: All-star forward, Dallas Mavericks, NBA
Tyrus Thomas: Forward, Chicago Bulls, NBA
Justin Tuck: All-Pro defensive end, New York Giants, NBA
Venus Williams: Olympian and Grand Slam Champion
Ryan Zimmerman:  All-Star third baseman, Washington Nationals

For more information on the 2010 Jefferson Awards for Public Service, visit: www.allstarshelpingkids.org.

About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States.

For more information on USATF, visit USATF.org.


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