News20 Nov 2020

Richards-Ross and Boldon to host World Athletics Awards 2020


Ato Boldon and Sanya Richards-Ross (© World Athletics)

World Athletics is delighted to announce that legendary sprint stars Sanya Richards-Ross and Ato Boldon will host the World Athletics Awards 2020, to be staged as a virtual event on Saturday 5 December.

Richards-Ross, who raced to the world 400m title in 2009 and captured Olympic gold in the event in 2012, will host the event for the first time while Boldon, the 1997 world 200m champion and a four-time Olympic medallist in the 100m and 200m, will reprise his role, having hosted the event before.

Richards-Ross and Boldon, who both now work as television commentators, took a brief break from their preparations to share some thoughts about the past season and the upcoming World Athletics Awards 2020, which will be streamed live on the World Athletics YouTube channel, its Facebook page and via Twitter.

Six questions for Sanya Richards-Ross…

WA: Sanya, you’ve won World Athlete of the Year award in 2006 and 2009. What is your most cherished memory of those ceremonies?

SRR: Those were some of the most exciting times of my career, and I have so many memories, but I’ll never forget handing Prince Albert my trophy to hold while I was giving my speech. He was so gracious, as he always is, but when I returned to my seat my dad explained to me why it might not have been appropriate to ask the Prince to hold my trophy. What can I say, I was young and he’s pretty awesome!

Was it harder to make an acceptance speech or is it harder to host the awards?

A: This is a funny one! Neither is hard. I was so honoured to do both. To win the awards meant everything to me, writing the speech was easy and having the honour to now host and see other athletes receive this honour that I know they’re worked so hard for brings me just as much joy.

Because of the pandemic, the 2020 Awards will be held virtually. How do you feel about that? What are some of the challenges you will face?

A: Being forced to do the awards show virtually isn’t nearly as much fun as getting to be in person with everyone but it does present an opportunity to try new things. I’m excited that we’re still going to have the show and I'm not focused on the challenges but instead the opportunity.

What is it like hosting with Ato?

A: I love Ato! He’s so fun to work with and we both really want to put together a great show. I can’t wait for you all to see it.

2020 has been very special. What was your highlight of the year on and off the track?

A: I loved seeing the athletes get back to it. Mondo Duplantis breaking the world record twice this year with everything happening reminds me that we can soar to new heights no matter the circumstances we face. Off the track I’ve made a big move to Atlanta and I’m now co-hosting an exciting new show called Central Ave. It’s awesome, you all should check it out when you can.

Which of the awards to be revealed on 5 December are you most looking forward to this year?

A: I’m most excited about Male and Female Athletes of the Year. I always am.

...And five for Ato Boldon

WA: You hosted the Athletics Awards in 2012 in Barcelona and in 2016 in Monaco. Because of the current situation, you’ll be hosting the 2020 Awards virtually. What will the challenges be?

AB: The whole year has forced those of us who broadcast to adapt. I called the Wanda Diamond League season from my home office. This will be no different. Presenters have to bring the energy because of the lack of a live audience, and make sure that we keep it short and sweet so that we don't lose the virtual audience.

What was your favourite moment of the 2012 edition when the athletes of the year were Allyson Felix and Usain Bolt?

A: Allyson and Usain had won lots of awards at that point already. Allyson getting that elusive Olympic individual gold was awesome. Bolt was so excited for his coach, and so was I. I think seeing Coach Glen Mills get his award stands out in my memory because he was finally receiving his honours for delivering not just one but the two fastest men of all time from his camp.

How excited are you to host the Awards with Sanya? Tell us a little more about your television relationship.

A: Sanya joined the NBC booth in 2016, literally days after retiring. Sanya and I have known each other for a long time. She's more like a younger sister than a work colleague. It feels very natural to broadcast with her, because we have already done World Championships and Olympics broadcasts together.

2020 has been very special, what was your highlight of the year on and off the track?

A: On the track, it was seeing Norway's Karsten Warholm put together the amazing season he did, despite the obvious challenges. Off the track, it was definitely seeing the people around the world protesting in the streets for causes they believed in.

Which of the awards to be revealed on 5 December are you most looking forward to this year? 

A: Coach of the Year I think will be the most special. I'm biased as a coach, but I know how many different jobs coaches have to do, besides just coaching, to get someone to the top of the podium.

World Athletics