Dina Asher-Smith and Zharnel Hughes, who won five titles between them at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships, were named as Female and Male Athletes of the Year for 2018 at the British Athletics Writers Association awards, presented in association with London Marathon Events, at a luncheon at the Tower Hotel, London on Friday (23).
Asher-Smith and Hughes were both first-time winners of the sport’s oldest and most prestigious honour. On the women’s side, Asher-Smith finished ahead of European 1500m champion Laura Muir and world indoor pentathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson in the voting while Hughes beat out European marathon record-holder and six-time award recipient Mo Farah for the men’s accolade.
Asher-Smith became only the third female sprinter in European Championships history - and the first since 1990 - to win three sprint titles in the same championships. The 22-year-old, who was also crowned female European Athlete of the Year at the Golden Tracks award ceremony in Lausanne last month, now has her sights fixed on winning her first senior global medal at the IAAF World Championships in Doha which begin in late September.
"The Americans and Jamaicans will be there,” Asher-Smith said on the opposition next year. “The pressure of competition is making me work hard and train hard. Alongside my fantastic coach John [Blackie], we’re trying to turn my weaknesses into strengths and my strengths into stronger strengths, so I can put myself in a better position over the next two years and for the rest of my career.”
Hughes provided the second half of a British sprint double in the 100m at the European Championships, winning gold in Berlin in 9.95 before helping the British sprint relay team to gold in the 4x100m relay. Hughes also lowered his lifetime best in the 100m to 9.91 to move to second on the British all-time 100m list behind Linford Christie’s 9.87.
Jake Norris, who won the hammer gold medal at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland and broke the British U20 record in 2018, was the recipient of the Junior Male Athlete of the Year prize.
Heptathlete Niamh Emerson, who followed bronze at the Commonwealth Games before winning the world U20 title in Tampere, picked up the Junior Female Athlete of the Year award.