Jamaican Usain Bolt and Australian Sally Pearson have been named the Male and Female World Athletes of the Year for 2011 by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Bolt, who won the award for the third time, and Pearson, a first-time nominee and winner, received their trophies and $100,000 prizes at the 2011 World Athletics Gala held at the Salle des Etoiles of the Sporting Club d'Eté on Saturday.

The 2011 World Athletics Gala was hosted by International Athletic Foundation (IAF) honorary president HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and the IAF & IAAF president Lamine Diack.

Bolt, 25, successfully defended his title in the 200m at the World Championships in Daegu, clocking 19.40 which is the second fastest performance of the year. He was also the 2011 world leader in the 100m at 9.76 and won five of his six races over the distance.

Pearson, also 25, dominated the women's 100m hurdles this year, winning ten of her 11 competitions while producing seven of the season's quickest 11 performances. The highlight was her sensational 12.28 clocking to take the world title which made her the fourth fastest woman in history with the quickest performance in nearly two decades.

"This season was a really trying season for me, I really had to work hard and stand up my game," said Bolt, who was also named Athlete of the Year in 2008 and 2009.

"It was just such an honour to be in the top ten this year," said Pearson, who like Bolt was a World Youth champion in 2003. "To be able to win this for my country and for my region Oceania means a lot and hopefully will inspire junior athletes to stay in athletics."

There were other award winners for the night too.

Performance of the Year
Men - Yohan Blake (JAM) - 19.26, the second fastest 200m performance in history at the Memorial van Damme in Brussels.
Women - Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) 5000m and 10,000m double victory at the World Championships in Daegu

Rising Stars
Men - Kirani James (GRN)-World 400m champion
Women - Christin Hussong (GER) -World Youth Javelin Throw champion in Lille with championship record

Coaching Lifetime Achievement Award - John Velzian (KEN)

Journalist Lifetime achievement award - Alain Billouin (FRA)

World Athletics City Award -Daegu (KOR)

Check out the photos of the award ceremony.