With 10 days until the Golden Tracks award ceremony takes place in Lausanne, Switzerland on 16 October, we can announce the three finalists for the men's and women's European Athlete of the Year.
The shortlist includes both the 2019 European Athletes of the Year Mariya Lasitskene and Karsten Warholm, both of whom won gold medals at the Tokyo Olympic Games and trophies in the Diamond League final in Zurich.
The shortlist was determined by a four-part voting process which incorporates votes from fans across social media, Member Federations, media and an expert European Athletics panel. Each section constituted 25 percent of the vote.
Sifan Hassan (The Netherlands)
Sifan Hassan almost pulled off the unthinkable feat of winning three individual gold medals at the same Olympics. Hassan won the 5000m and 10,000m titles but the Dutchwoman came up narrowly short in the 1500m, settling for bronze behind Faith Kipyegon and Laura Muir.
Hassan’s pre-Olympic campaign was highlighted by a world 10,000m record of 29:06.82 in Hengelo - a mark which was beaten on the same track only two days later by Letesenbet Gidey - and while her exploits in Tokyo had understandably caught up her, the seemingly indefitagle Hassan still finished her season with a flourish.
After winning over 5000m in Eugene, Hassan ran one of the fastest mile times in history in Brussels with 4:14.74 before finishing a close second to Kipyegon over 1500m in the Diamond League final in Zurich.
Mariya Lasitskene (Authorised Neutral Athlete / Russia)
Mariya Lasitskene has won multiple world and European titles both indoors and outdoors but an Olympic medal was conspicuously absent from her collection.
Still a junior at the time of the 2012 Olympics, Lasitskene missed out on selection for London and the blanket ban on Russian athletes meant Lasitskene was absent from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Troubled by a knee injury all season, Lasitskene only qualified for the final by virtue of a third-time clearance at 1.95m but the Russian showed her immense competitive mettle by clearing season’s best of 2.02m and then 2.04m to seal the title.
Lasitskene, who was the 2019 European Athlete of the Year, then went on to clear 2.05m in the Diamond League final in Zurich. Will she become just the second athlete after Dafne Schippers (2014-15) to win the award in back-to-back editions?
Anita Wlodarczyk (Poland)
Like Lasitskene, Anita Wlodarczyk was on the comeback trail from injury but the seasoned campaigner had timed her peak to perfection.
The world record-holder created history at the Olympic Games in Tokyo by becoming the first female athlete to win three successive gold medals in the same event, clinching a third gold medal in the hammer with a winning mark of 78.48m - her best mark in three years.
Armand Duplantis (Sweden)
His world record of 6.18m remains just beyond his reach for now but Armand Duplantis achieved a record for consistency at the highest level, clearing six metres or higher in no fewer than 12 competitions indoors and outdoors.
His indoor season was highlighted by a 6.10m clearance in Belgrade, a precursor to another title at the European Indoor Championships in Torun where he cleared 6.05m to take ownership of the championship record in the arena in which he broke the world record for the first time in 2020.
Duplantis suffered two unexpected losses outdoors but the American-based Swede won every significant competition including gold at the Olympic Games with 6.02m and the Diamond League final in Zurich with 6.06m.
Duplantis has previously been a winner at the Golden Tracks. He was named joint men’s Rising Star in 2018 alongside Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen following their incredible exploits at the European Athletics Championships in Berlin.
Lamont Marcell Jacobs (Italy)
The men’s sprinting scene was thrust wide open this season and the vastly improving Lamont Marcell Jacobs duly filled this void with two scintillating performances in the 100m at the Tokyo Olympics.
Having broken the 10 second-barrier ahead of Tokyo, Jacobs eclipsed the European record with a 9.83 clocking in the semifinal before storming to gold in the final in 9.80. Further success came at the end of the championships as Jacobs ran the second leg of Italy’s gold medal-winning team in the 4x100m.
Jacobs gave notice of what was to come this summer by dominating the 60m at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Torun where he won gold in a world lead of 6.47. He also caught the attention of eagle-eyed track fans with a scintillating 8.91 split at the World Relays in Silesia.
Karsten Warholm (Norway)
Karsten Warholm raced lightly in 2021 but his performances were of a stratospheric standard.
Warholm clinched the world record from Kevin Young, appropriately on home soil at the Bislett Games in Oslo with 46.70 but the Norwegian tore his record asunder at the Olympic Games in Tokyo where he broke through the 46 second-barrier with 45.94 - a respectable time even for the 400m flat!
For the third successive season, Warholm enjoyed an unbeaten campaign in the 400m hurdles. He also took notable wins in Monaco and Berlin as well as in Zurich at the Diamond League final.
At 25, Warholm is one of the few athletes to have won both the Rising Star award and the men’s European Athlete of the Year award. Will he win again in Lausanne?