Ahead of next month’s World Athletics Awards 2021, World Athletics announce the six finalists for the 2021 Member Federation Award.
First awarded last year, the Member Federation Award honours a national governing body that has gone above and beyond to serve its athletes, fans and the greater community.
Each of the six area associations was asked to nominate three-member federations. A vote by the World Athletics Executive Board selected the six finalists, one from each area association.
The winner will be announced at the World Athletics Awards 2021 to be held virtually on Wednesday 1 December and streamed live on the World Athletics YouTube channel.
The six nominees, listed alphabetically, are: Athletics Australia (AUS) – Oceania
Despite some hiccups with Covid restrictions, Australia was able to host two Continental Tour Bronze and one Continental Tour Silver meetings.
The domestic season culminated in one of the largest Australia Championships ever, which was highlighted by Nicola McDermott becoming the first Oceanian woman to clear two metres in the high jump.
The Australian team in Tokyo was the second most successful Australian athletics team of all time at an Olympic Games, achieving three medals, five Australian records, 14 top-eight finishes, 20 personal bests and finishing 10th out of 197 nations on the placing table.
Australia has more than 120,000 young participants actively involved in Kids’ Athletics. Australia has been trialling the rollout of the updated World Athletics Kids’ Athletics programme and is looking to implement it across its member associations in 2022.
Athletics Kenya (KEN) – Africa
So often the leading African nation on medals tables at international events, Kenya maintained that record at the Tokyo Olympic Games, placing third overall behind USA and Italy. The country also topped the medals table at the World Athletics U20 Championships Nairobi 21, where they earned 16 medals, eight of them gold.
While most of the country’s medals from international events in 2021 came in endurance disciplines, the likes of Ferdinand Omanyala – who set an African 100m record of 9.77 at the Continental Tour Gold event in Nairobi – showed Kenya’s diversity as an athletics nation.
Along with hosting the World U20 Championships and the Continental Tour Gold meeting in Nairobi, Kenya has been an active player in the UN’s Sports for Climate Action initiative.
Czech Athletic Federation (CZE) – Europe
Although the restrictive measures in the Czech Republic fundamentally affected sport from the autumn of 2020 to the spring of 2021, the Czech Athletic Association decided to follow up on the successful ‘Back on Track’ project.
On 2 June 2021, as part of the follow-up project ‘Athletes Together’, thanks to the huge interest of the clubs, there were meetings at 253 places all over the country.
The events were attended by more than 23,000 people of all ages and performance levels, from members of the national team to families with children and guests from other sports. The meetings also served as a recruitment event earlier than the usual September time.
Federacion Costarricense de Atletismo (CRC) – North & Central America and the Caribbean
The Costa Rican athletics federation has created and activated protocols for training, competitions and development over the past 12 months, despite the challenges of the pandemic.
The FECOA also developed a regional competition structure at all levels across the entire country.
Meanwhile, the federation’s national plan has enabled the nation’s top athletes to reach the highest level of competition, including the Olympic Games and World U20 Championships.
Thanks to their decade-long experience of Kids’ Athletics, Costa Rica was one of the nations that were consulted during the creation of the relaunched World Athletics Kids’ Athletics programme. They are now working on putting the new programme into practice.
In the past 12 months, the country has hosted the senior Central American Championships twice, as well as the NACAC U23, U20 and U18 Championships.
Since the start of the pandemic, Costa Rica was the first federation in America to host international events.
Federacion Ecuatoriana de Atletismo (ECU) – South America
Ecuador hosted two of the most important South American competitions in 2021: the senior South American Championships, and the South American U23 Championships.
When the 2021 senior event in Buenos Aires was cancelled just days before the championships were due to begin, the Ecuadorian Athletics Federation accepted the challenge to host it.
Held in Guayaquil across the last three days of May, the event went ahead and allowed many of the continent’s best athletes to prepare and qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
More recently, Guayaquil hosted the continental U23 championships, which had originally been set to take place in Georgetown, Guyana in 2020.
All 13 South American member federations took part, providing an opportunity for young athletes to qualify for the Pan American Junior Championships later this year.
Japan Association of Athletics Federations (JPN) – Asia
One of the oldest member federations in Asia, Japan this year achieved an important milestone in its history when it hosted the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The country achieved two medals: a silver and a bronze in the men’s 20km race walk – an area of the sport that has thrived in recent years.
The country is now one of the strongest race walking nations in the world and continues to perform consistently well across most athletics disciplines.
JAAF has also developed an active network of local athletics associations, organising annual championships for various age groups and a sophisticated training system for coaches.