European Athletes of the Year

Femke Bol from the Netherlands and Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen were crowned European Athletes of the Year for the second successive year at the annual Golden Tracks award ceremony in Vilnius, Lithuania, last weekend.

Both athletes came away with two gold medals at the Istanbul 2023 European Athletics Indoor Championships as a prelude to brilliant outdoor campaigns highlighted by gold medals at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest.

VILNIUS, LITHUANIA – OCTOBER 21: Mattia Furlani (L) and Angelina Topic (R) pose for a photo with their European Athletics Rising Star awards during the 2023 Golden Tracks awards at Compensa Concert​ Hall on October 21, 2023, in Vilnius, Lithuania. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images for European Athletics)

After a dramatic fall in the mixed 4x400m final, Bol returned with a vengeance, winning gold medals in the 400m hurdles before closing the championships by anchoring the Netherlands to victory in the 4x400m – Europe’s 16th gold medal of the championships – while Ingebrigtsen turned 1500m silver into gold in the 5000m to retain his title.

Femke Bol, photo by Kevin Morris

Both athletes thoroughly revised the record books in 2023. Bol improved the long-standing world indoor 400m record with 49.26 at the Dutch Indoor Championships in Apeldoorn – host venue of the 2025 European Athletics Indoor Championships – before reducing her own European 400m hurdles record to 51.45 at the London Diamond League meeting.

Ingebrigtsen set European records at no fewer than five different distances outdoors and concluded his summer by winning the mile and 3000m at the Diamond League final in Eugene on back-to-back afternoons in European records of 3:43.73 and 7:23.63, respectively. He also set a world 2000m record of 4:43.13, a world two-mile best of 7:54.10, and lowered his European 1500m record to 3:27.14.

Jakob Ingebrigsen runs 3:43.73 and Yared Nuguse runs 3:43.97 AR in Bowerman Mile, fastest mile in 24 years! photo by Brian Eder/RunBlogRun

There were honorable mentions for Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh, Armand Duplantis from Sweden, and Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou. Estonia’s Taivo Mägi and Latvia’s Alona Fomenko were the recipients of the Coaching award, while Lithuania’s Alfonsas Buliuolis was presented with the Member Federation award.

Poland’s European 400m bronze medallist Anna Kielbasinska was the first recipient of the biennial European Athletics Women’s Leadership Award for her role as a mentor to young athletes as part of her responsibility as President of the Athletes’ Council of the Polish Athletics Association (PZLA).

Two moments of outstanding sportsmanship at the European Athletics Team Championships in Silesia were also recognized. Croatia’s Dino Bosnjak was presented with the Fair Play Award after assisting his friend and rival Vid Botolin from Slovenia, who collapsed through exhaustion in the home straight of the 2nd Division 5000m.

Jolien Boumkwo, photo by EAA

Jolien Boumkwo was also presented with the Team Spirit Act of Recognition award for filling the vacant place on the Belgian team in the 1st Division 100m hurdles, where Belgium was fighting to avoid relegation. Primarily a shot putter, Boumkwo’s efforts yielded two points for the Belgian team, and her contribution gained worldwide attention and recognition.