By Sports Reporter Doha
Can Mutaz Barshim upstage British distance running legend Sir Mohamed Farah and South African 400m and 200m ace Wayde Van Niekerk to win this year’s IAAF Athlete of the Year Award?
Qatar and the entire Arab world would be waiting in anticipation as the athletics’ world governing body decides on the prestigious honour at a gala ceremony in Monaco today.
While it is a tough call to predict who would walk away with the accolade, the genial but thoroughly professional Qatari stands a fair chance to etch his name in the pantheon of athletics immortals when the announcement is made.
The trio were shortlisted from an initial list of 10 athletes announced more than a month ago by the IAAF, which was later culled to just three.
Arguably, it’s a daunting list that would put the judges under extreme pressure but what works in Barshim’s favour is that he was unbeaten throughout the season.
The 26-year-old swept the high jump at all Diamond League competitions and then routed the competition to win the gold at the IAAF World Championships in London in August. If world domination is a criterion for the award then the judges needn’t look beyond the Qatari.
If Barshim wins the award, it will cap a dream year for the world high jump champion who also won the ANOC Best Athlete in Asia award last week in Prague.
The Qatari is already the world’s second best high jumper of all time. His best jump 2.43m is the second best in history, marginally behind Cuban great Javier Sotomayer’s world record of 2.45 set almost 25 years ago.
Farah, who was knighted this year, is the most successful British track athlete in modern Olympic Games history. He is the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medallist in both the 5,000m and 10,000m, and is the second athlete in modern Olympic Games history, after Lasse Virén, to win both the 5,000 and 10,000m titles at successive Olympic Games. Farah also completed the ‘distance double’ at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships in Athletics.
This year, he won the 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships in London but had to settle for silver in the 5,000m, finishing behind Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris.
Van Niekerk is the current world record holder, world champion and Olympic champion in the 400 metres, and also holds the world best time
in the 300 metres.
Nearly 80 of the world’s best athletes will gather in Monaco today to help celebrate the past year and to meet with members of the media who will also assemble to cover the numerous events that will be taking place.
The IAAF Athletics Awards 2017 will take place at the Grimaldi Forum with the ceremonies beginning at 9.30pm Qatar Time. In addition to the announcement of the men’s and women’s Athletes of the Year, the recipients of the IAAF Rising Star Awards, Coaching Achievement Award, Women’s Award and President’s Award will also be revealed.
The ceremony will also name the winner of the inaugural Athletics Photograph of the Year competition. The 25 shortlisted images will also form part of a photography exhibition which will be held alongside the IAAF Athletics Awards from 22-26 November.
The week also includes the 212th IAAF Council Meeting which will take place on Saturday (25) and Sunday (26). The two-day meeting will focus on the day-to-day business of IAAF HQ with updates from IAAF departments, IAAF commissions, working groups and taskforces. These will include the latest report from the IAAF Taskforce concerning Russia.
There will be progress reports from the local organising committees of various 2018 IAAF World Athletics Series (WAS) events. Council will also decide the hosts for three 2020 WAS events: the World Indoor Championships, the World Half Marathon Championships and the World Race Walking Team Championships.
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