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Usain Bolt and Almaz Ayana: Best runners of 2016?

If Usain Bolt and Almaz Ayana hadn't already proven themselves to be runners to be excited about, their grand finales at the Rio Olympics sure confirmed it.

London 2017

London 2017

For many keen on the international elite running scene, it’s undeniable that Usain Bolt and Almaz Ayana were the runners of the year. Just recently, the track athletes were dubbed the IAAF World Athletes of the Year. For Bolt, it’s his sixth time seeing his name attached to that title. 

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Both athletes exemplified strong running as their seasons unfolded and it was the excitement in Rio that proved to be the grand finale. Bolt and Ayana’s performances were beyond superb and both runners left Rio de Janeiro having run races that will be talked about for years to come. 

The hype around Bolt’s races is nothing new. For the athlete, who is now 30, the 2016 calendar year represented the year where he would race in his last Olympics. Having won the triple gold– 100m, 200m, and 4x100m– twice before, many wondered if he’d be able to cap it off with a third. 


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Even though he struggled with a hamstring injury, he managed to push through his season to win gold at the Olympic Games in all three events. He ran 9.81 in the 100m, 19.78 in the 200m and his team brought home gold in the 4x100m with a 37.27. His relationship with young Canadian star Andre DeGrasse, who is at the start of his career, was one story line that also pulled in Canadians this August.

Almaz Ayana

As for Ayana, she was a bit of a dark horse this year. Though she has made her name as being an incredibly strong runner in the 5,000m, it was her 10,000m performance in Rio on the opening day of the track competitions that blew everyone away.

Going into Rio, Ayana has a world championship gold medal to her name in the 5,000m. She was definitely one to beat in that event. However she also made her debut in the 10,000m this year. She ran 30.07– the fastest women’s debut in the distance so far.

When the top women lined up to race the 10,000m, eyes were on her. Ayana not only broke the record in the distance, she smashed it. Her 29:17.45 time ousted the old mark of 29:31.78.

Catch the detailed report of her race here.