Wayde van Niekerk among athlete of the year finalists; no Caster Semenya
Mo Farah, Wayde van Niekerk and Mutaz Barshim have been nominated for the IAAF world athlete of the year award.
The women’s nominees were Ethiopian distance runner Almaz Ayana (10,000m gold, 5000m silver at worlds), Greek pole vault world champion Ekaterini Stefanidi and heptathlon world champion Nafi Thiam of Belgium.
Farah won 10,000m gold and 5000m silver at worlds in London. Van Niekerk also took gold and silver, in the 400m and 200m respectively. Barshim went undefeated in 2017, including his first world outdoor title in the high jump.
Noticeably absent from the finalists was South African Caster Semenya, who took 800m gold and 1500m bronze at worlds. Semenya, scrutinized since her 2009 gender-testing controversy, is undefeated at 800m for more than two years and twice lowered her national record in 2017.
Also missing the cut was Polish hammer throw world-record holder Anita Włodarczyk, who is undefeated since June 2014 and had the second-best throw of all time this year. And Russian high jumper Maria Lasitskene, who won all 24 of her indoor and outdoor meets in 2017 and had the six highest clearances in the world for the year.
Usain Bolt and Ayana won the awards last year.
The IAAF says the finalists were determined by a “three-way voting process.” Half of the votes came from the IAAF Council, 25 percent from the IAAF member federations and committee members, and the remaining portion from a public vote conducted by social media.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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