November 17, 2014 / 10:49 PM / 5 years ago

Keflezighi, Simpson named U.S. athletes of year

(Reuters) - Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi and Diamond League winner Jenny Simpson have been voted as U.S. athletes of the year, USA Track & Field (USATF) announced on Monday.

Meb Keflezighi of USA (L) runs for the finish line to finish fourth in the men's professional division of the 2014 New York City Marathon in Central Park in Manhattan, November 2, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Keflezighi, who in April become the first American man in three decades to win the Boston Marathon, will receive the Jesse Owens Award while women’s 1,500 metres runner Simpson earns the Jackie Joyner-Kersee accolade.

“It is such an amazing honour to receive an award named after such a great athlete and sportsman,” Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the marathon, said in a statement.

“This recognition as the best athlete on the world’s best track and field team, especially at the age of 39, means a lot to me, and is a tribute to all who have supported me unconditionally throughout the years.”

Keflezighi, who was born in Eritrea but is now a U.S. citizen, set an official time of two hours, eight minutes and 37 seconds with his victory in Boston, the first running of the race since last year’s fatal bombing attack.

USATF outdoor champion Simpson had a dream season in 2014, highlighted by her Diamond League title which she clinched in Zurich after beating her compatriot Shannon Rowbury by .01 seconds.

Simpson was the third-fastest woman in the world over 1,500m with a time of 3:57.22 in Paris and also recorded wins in Sacramento and Stockholm.

“Twenty years ago, I was a normal kid running around PE class when my gym coach suggested I join the cross country team,” said Simpson.

“I never could have imagined where that suggestion would lead. I think of all of my different team mates over the years and I’m humbled to represent all of our hard work through this award and look forward to my best years still straight ahead.”

Keflezighi and Simpson will be presented with their honours on Dec. 4 at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Anaheim, California.

Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue

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