– Christine Kennedy (Los Gatos, Calif.) has been named the 2011 Masters
Athlete of the Year by USA Track and FieldÛªs Masters Committee. Kennedy
will be honored on Saturday, December 3, at the Jesse Owens Awards and
Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in St. Louis, Mo. The event is held in
conjunction with USA Track & FieldÛªs Annual Meeting.
Kennedy, 56, owned the roads in 2011 by winning the USA Masters 5 km,
10 km, and 15 km championships this year. Kennedy also won two events
at the 2011 World Masters Athletics Championships. In a span of nine
days, Kennedy won both the 5,000m and the marathon. Her marathon finish
of 3:00:48 was good enough to finish as the third-place female overall
and win gold in her age-group.
KennedyÛªs highest age-graded performance of the year came from the
Boston Marathon where she finished in 2:56:17. Kenedy won her age-group
with time to spare; she finished nearly 12 minutes faster than the
second woman in her age-group.
ÛÏI feel that USA Track & Field has done an amazing job of bringing
masters competitions to the high level that they are today,Û Kennedy
said. ÛÏAnd I just wanted to be a part of that. The championships have
given me a great inspiration to continue to race the best that I can.Û
Kennedy started running while an Irish citizen at the age of 27.
Kennedy was inspired after watching the Dublin Marathon and she decided
that she too would go run a marathon and someday win one. When she told
her husband and family, they first thought she was joking and laughed
at her idea.
ÛÏI was so hurt by that [their laughter] I decided to start training,
and it took me five years to win the Dublin Marathon, and I havenÛªt
looked back since,Û Kennedy said.
ÛÏThe committee really was very proud to name her athlete of the year in
a unanimous decision,Û said Don Lein, Chair of the Masters Long
Distance Running Committee. ÛÏShe is a phenomenal athlete. We were
impressed with not only what she had done this year, but her record
over the years has been outstanding.Û
Now a U.S. citizen, Kennedy finds special meaning in being named the
Masters Athlete of the Year.
ÛÏI was shocked,Û she said. ÛÏTo receive an award like this is
unbelievable. Being a U.S. citizen now and running for the U.S. at the
Masters World Championships in the 5,000, all I could think of was that
I would love to be on the podium and hear the national anthem. I feel
IÛªve been adopted by the U.S. and given a second chance to race again.
ItÛªs a chance of a lifetime and IÛªve been very luck to race and
continue to put out the best performances that I can.Û
The Masters Athlete of the Year award was established in 2004 to
recognize the outstanding performances by 40-and-over athletes. A list of previous winners can be found here.