The International Sports Press Association (AIPS) has named Jamaican Olympic star Elaine Thompson-Herah and Polish striker Robert Lewandowski as its Best Athletes of 2021.
AIPS said in Lausanne, Switzerland on Wednesday that this is the result of a poll that it conducted in which a panel of 529 journalists from 114 countries voted for the Champions of 2021.
This is the first time Thompson-Herah, who won three gold medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is winning the award having topped the AIPS poll for the female category with 605 points, ahead of Barcelona and Spain’s women’s Ballon d’Or winner, Alexia Putellas (490 points) and triple jump world record holder, Yulimar Rojas, who received 346 points.
AIPS said Lewandowski amassed 435 points to retain the AIPS crown he won, for the first time, last year, ahead of 2021 Formula One World Champion, Max Verstappen, with 349 points and seven-time Balon D’or winner, Lionel Messi, with 314points.
AIPS also was announced that UEFA Euro 2020 champions Italy Men’s National Football Team was voted the Best Team, while the award for the Best Press Facilities went to Tokyo 2020.
“Elaine Thompson-Herah enjoyed a history-making 2021 season,” said AIPS in a statement. “The 29-year-old sprinter, born on Jun. 28, 1992, in Manchester Parish, Jamaica, stepped into the Olympic Games in Tokyo as one of the undisputed protagonists, even after a niggling Achilles injury almost cost her an Olympic spot at Jamaica’s National Championships a few weeks earlier.
“In Tokyo she produced head-turning performances to become the first woman to ever win the 100m, 200m sprint double at consecutive Olympics: she won the 100 meters race with a time of 10.61 – an Olympic record and the 200 meters race in 21.53,” it added. “She also scooped the 4x100m gold medal with her national team for her third gold medal in Tokyo.”
AIPS said only fellow Jamaican Usain Bolt had ever achieved the feat of defending the 100 and 200 metres sprint double at the Olympic Games.
“And it was only fitting that Thompson-Herah drew comparisons to her legendary compatriot,” AIPS said.
Following her triple triumph at the Olympics, it said Thompson-Herah would go on to consolidate her position as the fastest woman alive with a stunning 10.54 victory in the 100m at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Or.
AIPS noted that Thompson-Herah was named World Athletics Female Athlete of the Year by World Athletics.
She was also named NACAC Female Athlete of the Year and is “favored to be the RJR Sportswoman of the Year for 2021,” AIPS said.
Born in Warsaw, Poland, on Aug. 21, 1988, Lewandowski is “currently the most lethal goal machine European football has to offer,” AIPS said.
“Although he did not win the 2021 Ballon D’Or – having finished second to Lionel Messi who claimed the award for the seventh time – 2021 has definitely been a year to remember for the 33-year-old Polish striker,” it said.
“In 2021, Lewandowski picked up where he left off the year before, breaking a record that had lasted 50 years in the history of German football with his 43rd Bundesliga goal of the year on Dec. 17 in Bayern Munich’s 4-0 win over Wolfsburg,” it added. “With that goal, Lewandowski now holds the record of the most goals in a calendar year in the Bundesliga, which was previously held by legendary German striker Gerd Müller, who scored 42 Bundesliga goals in 1972.”
AIPS said it is the “peak professional body” representing the international sports media, with more than 9,500 members worldwide.
AIPS, headquartered in the Olympic capital Lausanne, Switzerland, was established in Paris, France, in 1924, as L’Association Internationale de la Presse Sportive, by Games Press Chief, Frantz Reichel, and the Belgian, Victor Boin.
AIPS is recognized by the International Olympic Committee and the main federations of each sport and country.