Discus thrower Gerhard Mayer and long distance runner Andrea Mayr have been named Austrian Athletes of the Year 2009. They won a poll carried out by the Austrian Athletic Federation with fans, media and coaches casting their votes.
Gerhard Mayer, 29, showed his best shape when it mattered most. At the World Championships in Berlin he took eight place, far better than one could have expected. Back in May he shattered the 27-year-old national discus record and achieved a new best 64.16 meters.
In the poll he narrowly beat “European Athlete of the Month November” Günther Weidlinger into second place. Clemens Zeller, fourth at the European Indoor Championships in Torino and silver medallist at the World University Games in Belgrad over 400 meters was ranked third.
In the women’s division Andrea Mayr was a clear winner. On her debut at the marathon distance she won the Vienna City Marathon, thereby setting a national record of 2:30:43. After a surgery due to a stress fracture and a torn tendon she came back to earn a bronze medal at the European Mountain Running Championships in Telfes, Austria. Bad luck hit her again a month ago, when she was cycling in Vienna and collided with a truck. However, a broken collarbone did not stop her fighting spirit to make her way back.
Mayr won the poll ahead of Elisabeth Pauer, new national record holder in the javelin and a participant at the World Championships in Berlin, and hurdler Beate Schrott, who came 11th at the European U23 Championships in Kaunas.
17-year-old Lukas Weißhaidinger was voted Austrian Junior Athlete of the Year. He showed his huge talent with two impressive gold medals at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Tampere, Finland. His winning marks of 60.94 meters in the discus and 20.35 meters in the shot put rank him fifth on the World Youth List for 2009. Additionally, he came fourth at the World Youth Championships in Bressanone in the shot put.
Picture (from 2008) shows Gerhard Mayer, Austrian Athlete of the Year, presenting the award "Goldener Emil", a golden adidas running named after Emil Zatopek.