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06 December 2023

Bolt-struck media

Usain Bolt was voted Sportsman of the Year. (GETTY IMAGES)


In a clash of Olympic stars, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt beat US swimmer Michael Phelps to be voted the 2008 athlete of the year by the international media.

Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva took the top place as sportswoman of the year and the only honour to buck the Olympic trend went to Spain's football squad, which was voted team of the year after winning the European Championship.

In a poll by the International Sports Press Association, journalists from 96 nations gave Bolt a narrow edge of 1,673 points to 1,557 over Phelps. Bolt won three gold medals, setting world records in the 100 metres, 200 and 400 relay to become the star of Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium. In the Water Cube, Phelps was the outstanding star with a history-making eight golds in the pool for the US.

In the wake of his thrilling victory over Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final, Spain's Rafael Nadal came third with 444 points, beating Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo with 401 points and new Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton with 275.

Isinbayeva was undefeated outdoors in 2008, defending her Olympic pole vault title in Beijing with one of her four world records this year.

The Russian dominated the poll with 1,723 points, way ahead of fellow athletic star Pamela Jelimo who had 631. The Kenyan bolted out of nowhere to take Olympic gold in the 800 metres, and also collected the $1 million (Dh3.67m) Golden League jackpot by winning her event at all six participating meetings.

Spain won their first international football trophy in 44 years by beating Germany 1-0 in the final after dominating the month-long Euro 2008 tournament.

The international journalists gave the team 1,395 points, enough to push Jamaica's sprint relay team into second place with 1,154 points. Champions League winners Manchester United were third with 769 points, edging the US Olympic basketball team with 597.