The IAAF has awarded its second highest distinction, the IAAF Silver Order of Merit, to top Portuguese distance runner Fernanda Ribeiro. Ribeiro is the first Portuguese athlete and the first woman athlete ever to receive the distinction, decided in recognition of her outstanding career achievements (World Champion in 1995 and Olympic Champion in 1996 in the 10,000m).
The Silver Order of Merit was also awarded to the outgoing President of the European Athletic Association, Carl Olaf Homen, for his outstanding services to the cause of Athletics. Homen had been President of the EAA and also a member of the IAAF Council since 1987. He announced his decision to step down from these positions earlier this year.
The final recipient of the Silver Order of Merit was the man known in Berlin as Mr Istaf. Rudi Thiel, is now retiring after heading the organisation of the renowned Berlin athletics meeting for over thirty years. During his tenure, Istaf has been the scene of ten world records and has been one of the world’s most successful athletics meetings.
Speaking after receiving her award, a visibly moved Fernanda Ribeiro said: "I thought that I had achieved everything that I had to. Now, I really feel that I need to do more to prove that I deserve this great honour."