Verstappen, Hassan named athletes of the year
Athlete Sifan Hassan and Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen were named Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year, both for the second time. Hassan was chosen over cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten and short track speedster Suzanne Schulting. Verstappen won over two Olympic champions - track cyclist Harry Lavreysen and BMX rider Niek Kimmann.
Hassan received the Jaap Eden award for Sportswoman of the Year for the second time in a row. This past summer, the 28-year-old Hassan won gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters and bronze in the 1,500 meters at the Tokyo Olympics.
Hassan had come to the Netherlands specifically for the award ceremony but tested positive for the coronavirus on the day of the Sports Gala. Therefore, she was absent from the gala. But she responded to her election via a video link. "It was a very special year for me and I am very happy with this award. Thank you to everyone who voted for me," said Hassan, who added that she has no coronavirus symptoms. "I still ran a good time this morning. I feel fine and just wanted to be there with you."
Verstappen was elected Sportsman of the Year for the second time, after also getting the title in 2016. He became the first Dutch Formula 1 World Champion earlier this month. The Red Bull driver decided the title battle with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton on the last lap of the last race in Abu Dhabi.
Just like five years ago, Verstappen was absent from the Sports Gala. The world champion is on vacation and his father Jos received the Jaap Eden award on his behalf. "It was a tough year, emotionally too," said Jos Verstappen in the Lichtfabriek in Haarlem. "After winning the world title, many emotions were released. The past few weeks were exhausting. He still had a lot to do after the last race. Max is happy that he is now on holiday because he didn't feel like doing anything for a while. It's good for him to get away for a while."
Reporting by ANP