With two days to go until the Golden Tracks takes place in Tallinn on Saturday (22) evening, we take a look back at award ceremony history from an alphabetic standpoint starting with Christine Arron and ending with Jan Zelezny.
Who will follow in these coveted footsteps this year? The European Athletes of the Year and Rising Stars will be crowned at the Golden Tracks on Saturday which will be streamed live through the European Athletics YouTube channel from 8.00pm local time (CET+1).
A is for Arron
French sprinter Christine Arron produced two of the highlights at the 1998 European Athletics Championships in Budapest. She won the European 100m title with a still-standing European record of 10.73 before producing a scintillating come-from-behind anchor leg in the 4x100m relay.
Arron was crowned women’s European Athlete of the Year in 1998 ahead of Sonia O’Sullivan and Heike Drechsler and remains the only French winner of this award.
B is for Bol
Femke Bol was crowned women’s Rising Star in 2021 and the treble European champion is one of three contenders for the women’s European Athlete of the Year trophy this year alongside Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh and Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam.
C is for Coaches
The annual European Athletics Coaching Award celebrates and recognises the pivotal contribution made by coaches across levels of athletics.
The coach of each European champion automatically receives an award and Member Federations are also invited to nominate one additional male and female coach who have made a profound contribution to coaching in their country.
D is for Dvorak
Czech Republic's Tomas Dvorak was the first combined eventer to be crowned men’s European Athlete of the Year in 1999. Dvorak broke the world decathlon record at home in Prague with 8994 points at the European Combined Events Cup and went on to retain his world decathlon title later in the season in Seville.
E is for Edwards
British triple jumper Jonathan Edwards was the first two-time winner of the men’s European Athlete of the Year trophy. The world record-holder with 18.29m won this award in 1995 and 1998.
F is for Farah
British distance runner Mo Farah is the only three-time winner of the men’s European Athlete of the Year trophy. Farah, who won back-to-back Olympic 5000/10,000m doubles in 2012 and 2016, received this award in 2011, 2012 and 2016.
G is for Gunnell
Sally Gunnell has the distinction of being the first women’s European Athlete of the Year, providing one-half of a British double alongside Linford Christie in 1993. Gunnell followed up her Olympic 400m hurdles gold medal by winning the 1993 world title in Stuttgart in a world record of 52.74.
H is for Hattestad
Good things come to those who wait. Competing at her fifth and last Olympic Games, Trine Hattestad landed javelin gold at the age of 34 at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney before being crowned women's European Athlete of the Year.
I is for Idowu
British triple jumper Phillips Idowu was crowned men’s European Athlete of the Year in 2009 ahead of Norwegian javelin thrower Andreas Thorkildsen and Russian high jumper Yaroslav Rybakov. After winning Olympic silver in 2008, Idowu upgraded to gold at the 2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin.
J is for Joint Winner
There was a first in award ceremony history in 2018 as European champions Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Armand Duplantis were named joint men’s Rising Star. Ingebrigtsen and Duplantis are in the running for the men’s European Athlete of the Year award alongside Miltiadis Tentoglou.
K is for Kipketer
Denmark’s Wilson Kipketer was crowned men’s European Athlete of the Year in 1997. Kipketer went unbeaten across 18 races - including heats and semifinals - in the 800m and set world records both indoors (1:42.67) and outdoors (1:41.11).
His world indoor record still stands 25 years later and his 1:41.11 remains untouched as the European record.
L is for Leadership
The biennial European Athletics Women’s Leadership Award was launched in 2009 to recognise and celebrate the outstanding contributions made by women in athletics away from the field of play. The first winners are traditionally presented with their awards on stage during the Golden Tracks.
M is for Member Federations
Outstanding servants of the sport are also celebrated at the Golden Tracks. The yearly European Athletics Member Federation Awards recognises individuals who have dedicated years of service to the sport away from the field of play.
This year, 26 awards will be handed out and the first winner will receive their prize on stage in Tallinn.
N is for the Netherlands
Athletics in the Netherlands is on a high at the moment and two of the four main awards went to Dutch athletes in 2021. Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion Sifan Hassan was named women’s European Athlete of the Year and Olympic 400m hurdles bronze medallist Femke Bol was crowned women’s Rising Star.
Bol is in contention for the women’s European Athlete of the Year trophy while European U18 1500m and 3000m champion Niels Laros is one of the men’s Rising Star finalists.
O is for O’Sullivan
Sonia O’Sullivan was crowned women’s European Athlete of the Year in 1995. She won 16 of her 17 races across all distances including the inaugural 5000m title at the World Athletics Championships in Gothenburg. O’Sullivan remains the only Irish athlete to have won a trophy at the Golden Tracks.
P is for Port of Tallinn
The Port of Tallinn Cruise Terminal will be staging this year’s edition of the Golden Tracks Award ceremony.
The Estonian capital also staged the awards in 2019 when Karsten Warholm and Mariya Lasitskene were crowned men’s and women’s European Athletes of the Year.
Q is for Qualifying Process
An initial shortlist of 10 athletes for the European Athletes of the Year and Rising Stars is drawn up by a panel of experts. Fans, media, Member Federations and an expert panel all have their say and each section accounts for one-quarter of the overall vote.
R is for Rutherford
Greg Rutherford was crowned men’s European Athlete of the Year in 2015 after completing the set of major long jump titles with gold at the 2015 World Athletics Championships.
Shortly after his retirement from athletics three years later, Rutherford was presented with a Lifetime Achievement award at the 2018 Golden Tracks.
S is for Schippers
Dafne Schippers is the last athlete to be crowned women’s European Athlete of the Year in back-to-back years in 2014 and 2015. Despite being primarily a heptathlete at this juncture of her career, Schippers swept the European 100m and 200m titles in 2014 before graduating to world 200m champion in 2015, smashing the long-standing European record with 21.63.
T is for Thiam
Nafissatou Thiam was crowned women’s Rising Star in 2016 and is one of three finalists for the women’s European Athlete of the Year trophy alongside Femke Bol and Yaroslava Mahuchikh. Interestingly, all three finalists are previous winners of the Rising Star award.
U is for Ukrainian high jumpers
Over the last decade, Bogdan Bondarenko has been crowned men’s European Athlete of the Year (2013) while Yuliya Levchenko and Yaroslava Mahuchikh were crowned Rising Stars in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
V is for Vlasic
Croatian high jumper Blanka Vlasic was crowned women’s European Athlete of the Year in 2007 and 2010.
Vlasic had a remarkable run of success in 2007, clearing 2.00m or higher in 12 successive competitions including the World Athletics Championships in Osaka where she scaled 2.05m and at the DN Galan in Stockholm where she cleared 2.07m.
W is for Warholm
Norway’s Karsten Warholm is a three-time winner at the Golden Tracks. The world 400m hurdles record-holder and Olympic champion was named Rising Star in 2017 and European Athlete of the Year in both 2019 and 2021.
X is for X-Factor
The Rising Star award was introduced in 2007 to recognise outstanding young European athletes. The inaugural winners were Italy's Andrew Howe and Great Britain's Jessica Ennis-Hill who went on to be crowned women's European Athlete of the Year in 2010.
This year’s nominees are Karmen Bruus, Angelina Topic and Elina Tzengko on the women’s side and Mykolas Alekna, Mattia Furlani and Niels Laros on the men’s side.
Y is for Youngest
France’s Christophe Lemaitre and Sweden’s Carolina Kluft are the youngest European Athletes of the Year. Lemaitre and Kluft were only 20 when they won this accolade in 2010 and 2003 respectively.
Lemaitre became the first male sprinter to win a sprint treble at the 2010 European Athletics Championships while Kluft broke the 7000 point-barrier in the heptathlon, winning gold at the 2003 World Athletics Championships with 7001 points.
Z is for Zelezny
World javelin record-holder Jan Zelezny is a two-time winner of the men’s European Athlete of the Year trophy. The Czech won in 1996 and 2000, the years in which he won his second and third Olympic gold medals.