Ten stars of the five Continental Games held over the past 14 months were honored here tonight during the second edition of the ANOC Awards, which aimed to celebrated athletes’ achievements and show sport’s power to unite nations and cultures.
Led by master of ceremonies, Trinidad and Tobago’s former sprinter Ato Boldon, a four-time Olympic silver medalist, the Awards were presented by a host of well-known Olympic icons.
They included 11-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte and fellow American Katie Ledecky, winner of the 800 meters freestyle gold medal at London 2012.
The opening honour of the evening at a packed DAR Constitution Hall, a concert hall built in 1929 by the Daughters of the American Revolution to house its annual convention, for the best male athlete at the All-African Games was presented to Congolese shot putter Franck Elemba for his gold medal winning triumph in his home city Brazzaville.
The Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josée Ta Lou claimed the best female athlete award after winning the 100 and 200 metres double, in addition to securing a bronze medal in the 4x100m relay.
Having become the most decorated athlete in the history of the Pan American Games with 23 medals, Brazilian swimmer Thiago Pereira claimed the men’s award.
America’s three-time Olympic champion Kim Rhode received the women’s crown having secured skeet gold at Toronto 2015.
Two of the smaller National Olympic Committees’ saw their athletes recognised for their athletes acknowledged for the achievements at the 15th edition of the Pacific Games, with the hosts Papua New Guinea seeing swimmer Ryan Pini claim the earn the best male title having won seven medals.
Gold medal winning boxer Jennifer Chieng, who represented the Federated States of Micronesia was announced as the women’s award winner.
Irish boxing star Katie Taylor, who added to her Olympic and world titles by winning gold at the inaugural European Games, claimed the best female award for achievement in Baku, with wrestling champion Togrul Asgarov taking the men’s title having delighted his home fans in Azerbaijan.
Despite the Asian Games taking place last year in Incheon, South Korea, the best male and female awards for the multi-sport event were presented to Nigerian-born Qatari sprinter Femi Seun Oguonde, who two-year ban lasting until January 2014 for the use of the prohibited substance Clenbuterol, as well as Chinese gymnast Yao Jinnan.
“In the past 14 months we have witnessed five wonderful Continental Games and enjoyed breath-taking sporting moments at each one,” said ANOC President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.
“These moments did not happen by accident, they were created by dedicated athletes, supported by their NOCs, achieving peak performances.
“NOCs and athletes are the heart of the Olympic Movement and in recognition of this the ANOC Awards 2015 involved athletes from multiple NOCs at every stage, from selecting the award winners all the way to presenting the awards themselves.
“This created a true spirit of gratitude and shared unity which is the hallmark of the ANOC Awards.”
Three special awards were also presented with the United States’ Bob Beamon being presented with the ANOC Award for Outstanding Performance, due to his world record jump of 8.90m at the Mexico City 1968 Olympics, with the distance not being bettered for 22 years.
Italy’s Francesco Ricci Bitti, who stepped down as the International Tennis Federation (ITF) President earlier this year having held the post since 1999 picked up the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement award, while International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach received the Contribution to the Olympic Movement award.
“This is the clear illustration that the athletes are at the heart of the Olympic Movement and that they get the recognition they deserve and they get it twice,” said Bach, on the importance of the evening to the athletes.
“They get it first on the podium when they receive their medals and then tonight, in a pretty different atmosphere.”