LAUSANNE: Poland centre-forward Robert Lewandowski and  Jamaican athletics star Elaine Thompson-Herah have been voted the Best Athletes of 2021 in a worldwide poll organised by AIPS, the international sports press association.

Voting was undertaken among a panel of 529 journalists from 114 countries.

Lewandowski amassed 435 points to retain the AIPS crown he won for the first time last year, ahead of 2021 Formula One World Champion, Max Verstappen, with 349 points, and Argentina’s Copa America-winning captain Lionel Messi.

Star quality: Lewandowski and Thompson-Herah

This is the first time Thompson-Herah, who won three gold medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, has won the award after compiling 605 points, ahead of Barcelona and Spain’s women’s Ballon d’Or winner, Alexia Putellas (490 points) and triple jump world record holder, Yulimar Rojas, who received 346 points.

The UEFA Euro 2020 champions Italy were voted top team while the press facilities award went to Tokyo 2020.

Lewandowski, born in Warsaw on August 21, 1988, Robert is currently the most lethal goal machine European football has to offer.

In 2021, the 33-year-old Lewandowski picked up where he left off the year before, breaking a record that had lasted 50 years in the history of German football with his 43rd Bundesliga goal of the year on December 17 in Bayern Munich’s 4-0 win over Wolfsburg.

With that goal, Lewandowski now holds the record of the most goals in a calendar year in the Bundesliga, which was previously held by legendary German striker Gerd Müller, who scored 42 Bundesliga goals in 1972.

This accomplishment gets even more important when considering the other competitions the Polish striker took part in: Lewandowski scored 58 goals in 47 appearances across all club competitions; 69 in 59 appearances when his national team performances are included, thereby ending the year as the top scorer playing in Europe for the third time in a row.

This year the Polish striker won the FIFA Club World Cup for the first time in his career, also landing the FIFA Club World Cup Best Player award. For the seventh consecutive year, he won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, along with the German Super Cup.

Lewandowski scooped the Bundesliga Player of the Season for the fifth time in his career. 

AIPS Best Male Athlete of 2021

1. Robert Lewandowski (Football) – 435 votes
2. Max Verstappen (Formula 1) – 349 votes
3. Lionel Messi (Football) – 314 votes
4. Karsten Warholm (Athletics) – 291 votes
5. Novak Djokovic (Tennis) – 289 votes
6. Cristiano Ronaldo (Football) – 280 votes
7. Aron Szilágyi (Fencing) – 271 votes
8. Armand Mondo Duplantis (Athletics) – 235 votes
9. Eliud Kipchoge (Atletica) – 207 votes
10. Lewis Hamilton (Formula 1) – 200 votes
11. Caeleb Dressel (Swimming) – 184 votes
12. Marcell Jacobs (Athletics) – 184 votes
13. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Basket) – 173 votes
14. Karim Benzema (Football) – 157 votes
15. Tadej Pogacar (Cycling) – 151 votes
16. Jorginho (Football) – 136 votes
17. Gianmarco Tamberi (Athletics) – 119 votes
18. Primoz Roglic (Alpine Skiing) – 104 votes
19. Mutaz Essa Barshim (Athletics) – 88 votes
20. Valentino Rossi (Moto GP) – 81 votes

Elaine excellence.

Elaine Thompson-Herah enjoyed a history-making 2021 season. The 29-year-old sprinter, born on June 28, 1992, in Manchester Parish, Jamaica, stepped into the Olympic Games in Tokyo as one of the undisputed protagonists, even after a niggling Achilles injury almost cost her an Olympic spot at Jamaica’s National Championships a few weeks earlier.

In Tokyo she produced head-turning performances to become the first woman to ever win the 100m, 200m sprint double at consecutive Olympics: she won the 100 meters race with a time of 10.61 – an Olympic record and the 200 meters race in 21.53. She also scooped the 4x100m gold medal with her national team for her third gold medal in Tokyo.

Only Usain Bolt had ever achieved the feat of defending the 100 and 200 metres sprint double at the Olympic Games and it was only fitting that Thompson-Herah drew comparisons to her legendary compatriot.

Following her triple triumph at the Olympics, she would go on to consolidate her position as the fastest woman alive with a stunning 10.54 victory in the 100m at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Eugene.

Thompson-Herah was named World Athletics Female Athlete of the Year by World Athletics.

AIPS Best Female Athlete of 2021 

1. Elaine Thompson–Herah (Athletics) – 605 votes
2. Alexia Putellas (Football) – 490 votes
3. Yulimar Rojas (Athletics) – 346 votes
4. Naomi Osaka (Tennis) – 297 votes
5. Emma Raducanu (Tennis) – 267 votes
6. Emma Mckeon (Swimming) – 257 votes
7. Faith Kipyegon (Athletics) – 200 votes
8. Angelina Melnikova (Artistic Gymnastics) – 191 votes
9. Mikaela Shiffrin (Alpine Skiing) – 191 votes
10. Sifan Hassan (Athletics) – 183 votes
11. Ashleigh Barty (Tennis) – 152 votes
12. Petra Vlhova (Alpine Skiing) – 150 votes
13. Uta Abe (Judo) – 141 votes
14. Anna Kiesenhofer (Cycling) – 140 votes 
15. Janja Garnbret (Sport Climbing) – 121 votes
16. Sam Kerr (Football) – 96 votes
17. Athing Mu (Athletics) – 91 votes
18. An San (Archery) – 87 votes
19. Sydney Mclaughlin (Athletics) – 85 votes
20. Rebeca Andrade (Artistic Gymnastics) – 69 votes