It was a year Nafissatou Thiam will never forget and she has been rewarded once more by being named as Belgium’s Sportswoman of the Year.
And on a night of celebration for the Olympic heptathlon champion, her coach, Roger Lespagnard, was named Coach of the Year at the ceremony in Brussels.
Thiam won by a country mile, receiving an amazing 1300 points in the voting as she beat cyclist Jolien D'hoore (753), a European madison champion and Olympic omnium bronze medallist, and boxer Delfine Persoon (446), the WBC, IBF, WIBA and WIBF world lightweight champion.
At 22, Thiam produced an extraordinary performance in Rio as she won gold with 6810 points, a national record, to beat defending champion, Jessica Ennis-Hill (6755), from Great Britain, and Canada’s Brianne Theisen Eaton (6653).
Before the competition, Theisen Eaton had led the world rankings with 6765 points from Götzis but Thiam overtook that mark in style.
It was a brilliant two days for the Belgian, who set personal best marks in the 100m hurdles (10.41), high jump – where the 1.98m she shared with Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson was a world heptathlon best – long jump (6.58m), javelin (53.13m) and 800m (2:16.54) to step up from her European heptathlon bronze in Zurich in 2014.
Cyclist Greg Van Avermaet, who won the men’s road race in Rio, is Belgian’s Sportsman of the Year.
In Zagreb, there was award success for discus star Sandra Perkovic who was named Croatia’s Sportswoman of the Year from the poll of daily sports newspaper Sportske Novosti.
It was the 65th staging of the awards and Perkovic had another superb year, retaining her Olympic title with her only legal throw of the final, 69.21m, in the third round, just weeks after making it four golds in a row at the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam.
This time it was the fifth round which brought her winning distance of 69.97m and in the awards, she beat Olympic javelin gold medallist Sara Kolak.
Olympic rowing silver medallist Damir Martin was Croatia’s Sportsman of the Year.