The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has shortlisted 20 names ahead of the 2016 IAAF Awards Night slated to hold in Monaco on the 2nd of December, where the Male and Female Athletes of the Year will be announced.
The list, which comprises of the names of 10 male and 10 female athletes, will be further moderated to six finalists (three men and three women) after the voting process ends on the 1st of November.
The male nominees are led by multiple World Record (WR) holder Usain Bolt, who has already received the award a whopping five times (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013). The Jamaican became the only man in history to win three consecutive Olympic titles in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m, thereby achieving the ‘triple triple’ in his final outing at the Olympic Games.
The African continent has a strong representation in WR holder and reigning Olympic and World Champion in the men’s 400m, Wayde Van Niekerk (South Africa) and the Kenyan trio of 800m WR holder David Rudisha, Conseslus Kipruto (3000m Steeplechase) and Eliud Kipchoge who won Kenya’s second ever Olympic GOLD medal in the men’s Marathon event in Rio.
Completing the list of male athletes on the shortlist are 2016 European Athlete of the Year (Male) Mo Farah (Great Britain), Ashton Eaton (USA, Decathlon), Thiago Braz da Silva (Brazil, Pole vault), Omar McLeod (Jamaica, 110 Hurdles) and Christian Taylor (USA, Triple Jump).
Ethiopian Almaz Ayana’s WR breaking feat in the women’s 10,000m on Day 1 of Track and Field at the Olympics, earned her a spot on the list, including her overall impressive form this year where she maintained an almost perfect streak, except in the women’s 5000m final in Rio where she succumbed to her first defeat of the season, finishing 3rd eventually.
Elaine Thompson’s impeccable outing in Rio did not go unnoticed, as the Jamaican clinched the sprint double ahead of fellow Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and rivals Dafne Schippers and Tori Bowie. Anita Wlodarczyk (Poland) totally decimated the women’s Hammer field in Rio where she broke her WR one more time, and has remained unbeaten for more than two years now.
Also included in the list are South Africa’s Caster Semenya and Ruth Jebet of Bahrain who have maintained unbeaten runs in the 800m and 3000m Steeplechase respectively. Ruth Beitia (Spain) who became an Olympic High Jump Champion at the age of 37, also made the cut. Incidentally, she was recently named European Athlete of the Year (Female).
USA’s Kendra Harrison is the only athlete on the list who isn’t a reigning Olympic Champion. The 24-year old hurdler set a scorching WR of 12.20s after failing to make the US team for the Olympics, and is also joined by Vivian Cheruiyot (Kenya, 5000m/10,000m), Caterine Ibarguen (Colombia, Triple Jump) and Sandra Perkovic (Crotia, Discus)