Ajla Del Ponte and Jason Joseph were voted Swiss Athletes of the Year at a particularly special awards night on Saturday (13) which also celebrated 50 years of Swiss Athletics.
Many of the stars of the last five decades - including three-time world shot put champion Werner Gunthor - were present at the Swiss Athletics Night which celebrated some of the federation’s proudest achievements in the last 50 years as well as recognising this year’s most outstanding athletes.
For the second year in succession, Del Ponte was named Swiss Athlete of the Year on the women’s side. After a very good 2020 season, Del Ponte was excellent all the way through 2021 and was unanimously chosen for the accolade by a jury of experts.
Del Ponte crowned her indoor season by storming to the 60m title at the Torun 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships in 7.03. Her winning time was the fastest in the world in 2021 and her winning margin of 0.21 was also the biggest in championship history.
The early stages of Del Ponte’s outdoor campaign were marred by the after-effects of a bout of coronavirus but the Swiss star eventually excelled in the 100m, reaching the Olympic final and breaking the 11 second-barrier five times. Del Ponte ultimately took the Swiss record down to 10.90 and also showed promise over half-a-lap of the track by improving to 22.38.
Del Ponte has been a key component of the vastly improving Swiss 4x100m team in recent years which was also recognised as the Team of the Year on Saturday. Switzerland finished fourth in the sprint relay final in Tokyo in a national record of 42.05.
On the men’s side, Jason Joseph was voted Swiss Athlete of the Year. Joseph missed out on a place in the Olympic final but he finished the year as the fastest European with a Swiss record of 13.12 in La-Chaux-de-Fonds. And on a good night for sprint hurdlers, European U20 100m hurdles champion Ditaji Kambundji was crowned Young Athlete of the Year.
As part of the 50 year celebrations, an audience of nearly 1000 invited guests were treated to 10 videos which highlighted some of the country’s finest moments over the last five decades - these videos are available to watch on the Swiss Athletics YouTube channel here - and each Swiss club was able to nominate one person who has made an outstanding impact as part of Swiss Athletics’ History Makers concept.
In total, Switzerland has won eight gold medals in European Athletics Championships history including one gold medal at the last edition in Berlin 2018 courtesy of the recently retired Lea Sprunger in the 400m hurdles who was in attendance on Saturday.