By Sports Reporter/Doha
Qatar’s high jump world champion Mutaz Barshim is locked in a three-way
battle with British distance running great Mo Farah and South African
400m and 200m ace Wayde Van Niekerk for this year’s IAAF Athlete of the
One of this trio will succeed retired Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt, the current holder of the accolade, when the winner is announced at a ceremony in Monaco on November 24.
The three were shortlisted for the top prize from an initial list of 10 athletes announced a month ago by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
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.
Barshim was unbeaten last season, sweeping all Diamond League competitions before being crowned world champion in London, where he won the global high jump title with a leap of 2.35 metres.
The 26-year-old, whose 2.43m best is the second-highest in history after Cuban Javier Sotomayor’s 2.45 set almost a quarter of a century ago, has won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics and silver in the 2013 World Championships.
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.
In the 2016 Olympic Games 400m, he won the gold medal with a world record time of 43.03 seconds, beating the time of 43.18 seconds set by Michael Johnson during the 1999 World Championships in Athletics in Seville.
At the 2017 World Championships, he won the 400m but missed a double when he had to be content with the silver in the 200m, won by Ramil Guliyev of Turkey.
On the distaff side, Ethiopia’s 10,000m Olympic champion Almaz Ayana is in the running to win a second successive women’s world athlete of the year honour.
She is up against Greek polevault star Ekaterini Stefanidi and Nafissatou Thiam, Belgium’s heptathlon Olympic and world gold medallist.
The men’s and women’s finalists were whittled down from an original list of 10 by a vote of IAAF council members, fans and fellow athletes.
A three-way voting process determined the finalists.
The IAAF Council and the IAAF Family cast their votes by email, while fans voted online via the IAAF’s social media platforms. The IAAF Council’s vote counted for 50% of the result, while the IAAF Family’s votes and the public votes each counted for 25% of the final result. Voting closed on 16 October.
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