Monte Carlo:World champion sprinter Tyson Gay and middle-distance runner Meseret Defar won World Athlete of the Year awards on Sunday.
Gay won the 100 and 200 meters at the world championships in Osaka, Japan, and was part of the victorious 400 relay team. That made him the fourth man to win three golds at a single worlds.
"To follow in Carl Lewis' footsteps is just a great honor," said Gay, referring to the first man to win the award in 1988. "I honestly think that I need to have the world record like some of the other great sprinters like Carl Lewis, Maurice Greene. I think that sets you apart."
The 25-year-old Gay also won the Jesse Owens Award earlier this month as the outstanding men's track and field athlete in the United States for 2007.
Defar set the two-mile world record at the Van Damme Memorial meet on Sept 14, smashing her own mark by almost 12 seconds. The Ethiopian finished in 8 minutes, 58.58 seconds.
The 23-year-old Defar also set world records in the 5,000 and the indoor 3,000 earlier in the season, and won the 5,000 at the Aug 25-Sept 2 worlds in Osaka, Japan.
"I don't have words to describe how happy I am," said Defar, who won all her races this season. "This is very special for Ethiopian women. Those who struggle very hard and who don't have very many opportunities to achieve the highest levels of athletics. So I dedicate this award to them."
Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell won men's performance of the year for his world-record time of 9.74 seconds in the 100 meters, set in Rieti, Italy, in September.
High jump world champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia won the women's award by clearing 2.07 meters in Stockholm, Sweden, coming closer to the 2.09-meter mark that has stood for two decades.