The annual Golden Tracks award ceremony in Tallinn on Saturday (26) served as an opportunity to reflect back on and celebrate another stellar year of athletics which began in earnest with the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships and also featured the first instalments of DNA which was part of the European Games and The Match Europe v USA in Minsk.
The IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha followed a fortnight later where European athletes won eleven gold medals on offer at the Khalifa International Stadium. Some of the standout performers in Doha won at the Golden Tracks but the evening also celebrates figures who have made a notable contribution away from the field of play and the first European Athletics Coaching, Member Federation and Women’s Leadership Awards were all presented in Tallinn.
The first of the four main awards to be presented was the women’s Rising Star award which was won by Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh. After winning the European U20 title in Boras, Mahuchikh matched Mariya Lasitskene up to a world U20 record of 2.04m to win silver at the World Championships in Doha.
The men’s Rising Star award was won by another athlete who made an immediate impact on his World Championships debut. Germany’s Niklas Kaul became the youngest ever winner of the world decathlon title in Doha and the 21-year-old has already resumed winter training ahead of a busy season in 2020 which features both the Olympic Games in Tokyo and European Championships in Paris.
Lasitskene is a past winner of the women’s Rising Star trophy and the Russian, who competes as an Authorised Neutral Athlete, was named women’s European Athlete of the Year for the first time. Lasitskene won 22 of her 24 competitions in 2019 and became the first high jumper in history to win three successive world titles in the high jump.
Warholm also made the transition from past Rising Star to European Athlete of the Year award winner on the men’s side. The two-time world champion and European record-holder was presented with his trophy by European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen.