The Jamaican sprinter was able to beat out Kenyan runner David Rudisha and American hurdler Aries Merritt. The award comes after Bolt defended his 100 and 200 meter gold medals at this summer’s London Olympic Games.
Bolt expressed his gratitude after receiving the award on Saturday.
“For me this a great honor to win a fourth time,” he said. “I really worked hard and I was really focused this year. This season was one of my toughest. I had my ups and downs, even though we don’t like to talk about them.”
Bolt went on to thank the Olympic fans and his coach Glen Mills.
“The London games were magnificent. Fans were there in the stadium from 10 in the morning. I had never seen anything like that,” he said.
Mills went on to receive an award for Lifetime Achievement in coaching at the awards ceremony.
American sprinter Allyson Felix walked away as the 2012 IAAF World Athlete of the Year for the women.
The other women’s finalists for the award were gold medalist British heptathlete Jessica Ennis and New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams.
Felix won the gold medal in the 200-meter in London after earning a disappointing silver four years earlier in Beijing. She acknowledges that the Olympic Games have always been an issue until this year.
“After Beijing I was devastated, I had worked as hard as possible but I came up short,” she said. “But I decided to rededicate myself even harder and it was a blessing in disguise. I was able to work harder than ever before and finally it all came together.”
Felix and Bolt won the Rising Star awards for the most promising young athletes of the year in 2003.
“Nine year ago I was here with Allyson, now I am back, that means I am getting old, which is slightly worrying,” the 26-year-old Bolt said. “But I will continue to work hard.”
Merritt and Rudisha did not leave the awards empty handed. Merritt won the Inspiration Award and Rudisha won the Performance of the Year award.
The Caribbean was also represented as javelin thrower Keshorn Walcott won the Rising Star award along with Bahamas sprinter Anthonique Strachan.