Olympic Walking Champion Matej Toth Beats Sagan as Athlete of Year

Slovak Athlete of the Year 2016 Matej Toth (in a military uniform, as a member of the Dukla Banska Bystrica army sports club). Runner-up Peter Sagan (wearing a hat and red jacket) and Slovak Olympic Committee president Anton Siekel standing in the background. (Photo by TASR)

Bratislava, December 23 (TASR) – Olympic 50-kilometre race walk champion Matej Toth and silver medalists from Rio in the K-4 kayak 1,000-metres Denis Mysak-Erik Vlcek-Juraj Tarr-Tibor Linka were selected on Thursday night as the 2016 Athlete(s) of the Year in the individual and team categories, respectively.

In the voting by Slovak sports journalists, Toth beat road cycling world champion Peter Sagan and WTA Finals winner Dominika Cibulkova.

As for teams, second place went to the Slovak national football team, which made it into the final 16 at the European Championships in France. The Under 21 national football team was third in the poll, with sports journalists praising especially its commanding qualifiers for the European Championships next year in Poland.

“I want to assure everybody that I consider Peter Sagan to be the most successful and most popular athlete in Slovakia at the moment. I don’t want to see rivalry between us, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him as well as for other athletes, and I wish the whole of Slovakia many such sporting successes like those seen this year,” said Toth at the ceremony.

Meanwhile, Sagan – the UCI’s No. 1, who in 2016 apart from becoming world champion in Doha also took gold from the European Championships in Plumelec, France, won the Tour of Flanders and secured the Tour de France’s green jersey for the fifth time in a row – was awarded the year’s best athlete title in a fan vote.