At a glittering bash in Monaco on Monday, December 11th, the World Athletics Awards for 2024 were announced. The Women’s and Men’s World Athletes of the Year were among the honors scheduled to be revealed. But this year, feedback from the voters led to a change in the format of this particular prize.
Awards in Three Categories – Inaugural Winners
In the past, a single male and a single female athlete have been crowned World Athlete of the Year. But this year, this award saw a big change. Throughout the year, athletes have been producing some sensational performances, including an unbelievable 23 new world records!
As a result, when it came to casting their votes, World Athletics Family members, athletes themselves, and fans were vocal in their view that it was nigh on impossible to limit their choices and vote for just one athlete because of the range of skill sets and disciplines involved in these achievements.
World Athletics took note! And this year a new format for the World Athlete of the Year award was announced. From now on this award will be divided into three different event categories, namely track, field, and out of stadia. The result is a total of 6 worthy winners instead of just 2. The inaugural winners are:
Kenya Takes the Double – USA Not Far Behind
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While Kenya hit the double, with a winner in both the men’s and women’s categories, the USA might also have scored two wins, although these would have both been in the men’s categories.
Twenty-six-year-old flyer Noah Lyles, who hails from Gainesville, Florida, was a worthy winner of the inaugural Men’s Track Athlete of the Year Award. But what many may not know is that Sweden’s star pole vaulter – Mondo Duplantis – could just as easily have been winning gold for Uncle Sam.
Duplantis: Dual Nationality and Athletic Heritage
Born in 1999, Duplantis first hit the International Athletics scene at the European Championships in Berlin. The then 18-year-old cleared 6.05 meters, becoming the youngest ever pole vaulter to clear 6 meters and winning gold for Sweden in the process.
Since then, he’s gone on to clear 6 meters over 60 times, and was named Athlete of the Year in 2020 and again in 2022. Along the way, he has set and broken the World Record, most recently at the 2024 Diamond League finals in Eugene, Oregon. His current world record stands at 6.23 meters, and he’s a worthy winner of the men’s inaugural field award in 2024.
But Duplantis could just as easily have been vaulting for the USA. Born to a Swedish mother and an American father, he was raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, and holds dual citizenship. While mother Helena (nee Hedlund) was a heptathlete and volleyball player, pole vaulting runs in his DNA.
Father Greg was a pole vaulter for the USA with a personal best of 5.80 meters, and young Mondo first tried the sport as a 3-year-old in the family’s backyard. While he could have represented either country, in 2015, Duplantis opted to represent Sweden. He now splits his time between Louisiana in the winter and Uppsala, Sweden in the summer, making the best of each climate for training purposes.
Betting on The Winners – USA v Sweden
Whether you are watching or participating, the outcome of any sporting event can be a thrilling affair, especially if the final result is a close call. This is particularly true of many athletics events where fine milliseconds and millimeters margins can separate the winners from the losers. This makes laying a bet on the outcome even more exciting.
Until recently, sports betting in the USA was very tightly regulated and online sports betting was not allowed. With the overthrow of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018, each state became free to set its own rules and regulations.
So far, 38 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to allow sports betting in some form or other. This includes either in-person at racetracks and brick-and-mortar casinos, online at licensed sportsbook sites such as BetMGM and DraftKings, or both.
In Sweden, Duplantis supporters also faced stringent regulations if they wanted to place a wager on their golden boy of pole vaulting. Up until 2019, the Swedish government had a monopoly on sports betting. The state-owned Svenska Spel (Swedish Bets) company was the only operator that could offer online sports betting, online casino games, or any other type of online gambling to the Swedish population.
It also ran lotteries through a network of agents and, through its Casino Cosmopol subsidiary, it ran a network of three physical casinos in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö. But on January 1st, 2019, this all changed. Private operators are now allowed access to the Swedish market.
Bettors can now legally access sites, like those listed on this website, which do not hold a Swedish license. Here, like their American counterparts, they can find boosted odds, great bonus deals, and more to add even more entertainment to their sports watching.
What to Watch for In 2024
With the XXXIII Paris Summer Olympics fast approaching in July 2024, the athletes mentioned here will be some of the ones to watch. Can they add Olympic gold to their already impressive achievements? Check out the odds and see what the experts think!