Athlete of the Decade (2010-2019)

We are delighted to announce a shortlist of three contenders for our England Athletics’ Athlete of the Decade award. Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah and David Weir CBE are the outstanding athletes all vying for the honour.

The Award – a celebration of remarkable sporting success and overall contribution between 2010 and 2019 – will feature as part of our annual Hall of Fame event when the athletics and running community come together to recognise all that is great about the sport, from the grassroots to elite performance.

Voting is open to the public and closed on 23 September. Entries are now closed.

Who are the contenders for the England Athletics’ Athlete of the Decade award?

Nominee: Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill

Jessica Ennis-Hill followed on from the successes of the likes of Mary Rand, Mary Peters, Denise Lewis and Kelly Sotherton to become the most successful female multi-eventer Britain has ever had.

Considering the decade you are voting upon she had recovered from three stress fractures to have already become World Champion at heptathlon – a title she claimed twice more in this decade.

In 2010, she claimed the world indoor pentathlon and European outdoor titles with personal best scores of 4937 and 6823.

Then in 2011, it was on to Daegu where she placed second to Tatyana Chernova at the World Championships. The result on the day was not what it was to become – she went on to be awarded the gold medal years later as the Russian was retrospectively found guilty of doping.

As the poster girl for the 2012 London Olympics there was enormous pressure on her. But rather than overawed, she was inspired. Her competition got away to a phenomenal start as she broke the British 100m hurdles record with 12.54, the fastest ever in a heptathlon and a time that was good enough to have won the individual title at the 2008 Olympics! Thanks also to a sparkling 200m in 22.83 she led by 184 points after day one and stretched that to a colossal winning margin of 306 points with her highest ever score of 6955. That made her one of Britain’s athletic immortals. Her performance was a fundamental part of the unforgettable Super Saturday when Britain won six gold medals including three in athletics in less than an hour.

But she hadn’t finished yet. After marrying Andy Hill in May 2013 and giving birth to Reggie in July 2014 she set out to regain the world title in August 2015. She made it this time to Beijing and triumphed again.

There was one final challenge: the 2016 Olympics in Rio. She was beaten on that occasion, but completed a fabulous career in second place, fighting hard to the end. She was appointed a Dame in the 2017 New Year Honours.

Major medals 2010-2019

  • 2010 – World Indoor Championships: Pentathlon Gold
  • 2010 – European Championships: Heptathlon Gold
  • 2011 – World Championships: Heptathlon Gold
  • 2012 – World Indoor Championships: Pentathlon Silver
  • 2012 – Olympics: Heptathlon Gold
  • 2015 – World Championships: Heptathlon Gold
  • 2016 – Olympics: Heptathlon Silver

Watch Jessica’s video below or click to view on YouTube.

Nominee: Sir Mohamed Farah

Britain has produced many great distance runners, but none has matched the success at global Games of Mohamed ‘Mo’ Farah.

Coming into the second decade of the 21st century Farah started to give notice of what he might be capable of achieving. Fittingly, it began with European Championships 10000m gold ahead of Chris Thompson, the pair reversing the positions they had taken at 5000m at the European Under 23 championships in 2003 as they had together risen through the ranks. Farah added the 5000m title at the same games and then became the first, and currently only, British athlete to break 13min for 5000m as he took Dave Moorcroft’s British record with 12:57.94 in Zurich.

It was then the following year he then began that remarkable series of 10 successive global titles. Heading into the 2011 World Championships 10000m he was world lead and European record holder (26:46.57), but after hitting the front and pushing on the pace over last lap, Ibrahim Jeilan came past in the latter stages leaving him with silver – his first global medal, but one that looked like it could so easily have been gold. Farah responded in the most impressive way – taking the 5000m title which began the incredible series of performances in global finals. His ability to not only control the latter stages of a race, continue to accelerate, and also gauge his efforts off whatever pace his rivals laid down meant it would not be until the 2017 World Championships 5000m that he would again finish second best in a global final.

London 2012 saw the first of Farah’s Olympic doubles as he claimed the 10000m title on Super Saturday – the same night Jessica Ennis Hill claimed heptathlon gold and Greg Rutherford the long jump title – before adding 5000m gold. Then the ‘double double’ was achieved in Rio with the 10000m and 5000m titles taken again.

Between those Games two more doubles over the same distances were also added at the world championships.

Farah was Knighted for services to athletics in the 2017 New Year Honours.

Major medals 2010-2019

  • 2010 – European Championships: 10000m Gold, 5000m Gold
  • 2011 – European Indoor Championships: 3000m Gold
  • 2011 – World Championships: 10000m Silver, 5000m Gold
  • 2012 – European Championships: 5000m Gold
  • 2012 – Olympic Games: 10000m Gold, 5000m Gold
  • 2013 – World Championships: 5000m Gold, 10000m Gold
  • 2014 – European Championships: 5000m Gold, 10000m Gold
  • 2015 – World Championships: 5000m Gold, 10000m Gold
  • 2016 – Olympic Games: 5000m Gold, 10000m Gold
  • 2016 – World Half Marathon Championships Bronze
  • 2017 – World Championships: 10000m Gold, 5000m Silver

Watch Mo’s video below or click to view on YouTube.

Nominee: David Weir CBE

It is a testament to the success of David Weir CBE that focusing our attention to the years 2010-19 gives a riches of success to talk about – and yet only provides a part of his story. For example, the period you are being asked to vote on includes four London Marathon wins… out of a total of his eight titles with two silvers and a bronze from the event also in this decade.

David Weir first met Jenny Archer at London’s Tooting Bec track when he was just eight years old. David made his Paralympic debut at Atlanta 1996 (aged 17). However, unimpressed by the experience he quit the sport soon after.

But following seeing the success of the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games he decided to return to the sport and contacted Jenny for help. Coming into the decade 2010-2019, the T54 wheelchair athlete had already established himself as a formidable competitor on the track and roads. A sweep of gold medals at 800m, 1500m and 5000m at the 2011 IPC World Championships, as well as a London Marathon win that year, reinforced this reputation.

But even more came the following year. After another London Marathon title then came the London Paralympics. Lord Coe describes: “London 2012 provided so many extraordinary moments and created so many heroes it is almost invidious to focus on any individual athletes or their achievements. But David Weir’s four gold medals must surely stand out as one of the outstanding performances in a truly astonishing summer.” The medals came at 800m, 1500m, 5000m and marathon to provide a remarkable Paralympic performance. More medals would keep coming at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games of 2014, IPC World Championships of 2015, and IPC European Championships of 2016. But it is the performances at London 2012 that will live longest and strongest in so many people’s minds.

Following London 2012, Jenny Archer and David also created the Weir Archer Academy – a wheelchair racing athletics club providing training opportunities and equipment for new and existing athletes. It is now the largest wheelchair racing club in the UK.

He was awarded the CBE for services to athletics in the 2013 New Year Honours.

Major medals 2010-2019

  • 2011 – IPC Athletic Championships: 800m Gold, 1500m Gold, 5000m Gold
  • 2012 – Paralympic Games: 800m Gold, 1500m Gold, 5000m Gold, Marathon Gold
  • 2014 – Commonwealth Games: 1500m Gold
  • 2015 – World Para Championships: 1500m Silver
  • 2016 – European Para Championships: 400m Gold, 800m Gold, 1500m Gold, 5000m Gold

Watch David’s video below or click to view on YouTube.

The nomination process and criteria

An expert panel convened to decide which three athletes they felt had most captured the public’s imagination through their outstanding achievements and contributions to the sport during the period from 2010 to 2019. The panel’s deliberations centred around two specific criteria when selecting their shortlisted athletes:

  • Major achievements in the sport of athletics between 2010 and 2019. Specifically medals at major championships and records.
  • The athlete’s overall contribution to the sport of athletics in this same period.

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