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Rudisha wins inaugural Olympic award

Kenyan Olympic champion David Rudisha said he was “honoured” on Friday as he led the prize-winners at a star-studded inaugural ANOC awards gala in Bangkok.

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The 800 metres gold medallist and world record-holder beamed as he was named best male athlete from London 2012, among the all-new Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) awards.

Chinese table tennis champion Li Xiaoxia was best female athlete of the 2012 Games and biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, the most decorated winter Olympian of all time, was best male from Sochi 2014.

Legendary Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina, and former Olympics boss Jacques Rogge were also honoured for their achievements at a glitzy, televised awards show in the Thai capital.

“I feel really honoured this evening to win this award. It means a lot for me and it’s really very special,” Rudisha said, calling his 2012 record-breaking win his “greatest moment” in athletics.

Rudisha said he was hoping to use next year’s world championships as a “stepping stone” to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics as he pursues his comeback from a knee injury.

“I’ve been going up and down with injury and just coming back. I’m really looking forward and see how my rehabilitation will go because that is the most important thing,” he said.

The awards, aimed at becoming the “Oscars” of the sports world, are a product of a revamped and newly ambitious ANOC under its influential president, Kuwait’s Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.

The United States was named best national Olympic committee from 2012, when they topped the medals table, and Russia was best NOC from this year’s Winter Games in Sochi.

Canada’s men’s and women’s ice hockey squads won the best male and female teams from Sochi. France’s men’s handballers and Brazil’s female volleyball team won the equivalent awards from 2012.

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