A total of 20 nominees for Men’s and Women’s Athlete of the Year 2017 were announced on Monday by International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) headquartered in Monaco, with Jamaica not making on the list of female nominees with the 10 including the 2016 Female Athlete of the Year Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia.
The first Jamaican athlete to win the IAAF World Athlete of the Year Award was in 1990 when Merlene Ottey commomnly known as Queen of the track and Bronze queen walked away with the title. She won 14 World Championshipmedals, and still holds the record (as of 2017) for most medals in individual events with 10.
The second female Jamaican to win the World Athlete of the Year was Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who claimed the title after 22 years. The 30 year-old is the first woman to own IAAF world titles at 60 m, 100 m, 200 m and 4 × 100 m relay, and is the only woman ever to hold them all simultaneously.
The other nominees are Olympic sprint hurdles champion and 2011 female winner, Sally Pearson of Australia; reigning World 800m champion and 1500m bronze medallist Caster Semenya of South Africa; Maria Lasitskene, who is a Russian, but competes as a neutral athlete; Hellen Obiri of Kenya; Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic; American Brittney Reese; Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece; Belgian Nafissatou Thiam, and Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland.
Track and field coach and analyst David Riley told The Gleaner that the list provides a good blend of the best athletes this season.
“You have the best long jumper, the best triple jumper, the best pole vaulter, the best middle distance and long distance athlete is there, and the best hurdler. It seemed to capture quite a bit. It is easy to determine who is good, and who is not in track and field. Just line them up and who comes first, comes first, and who comes last, comes last,” Riley said.
The finalists will be determined through a three-way voting process involving the IAAF Council, the IAAF Family, and track and field fans.
Fans may vote online via the IAAF’s social media platforms. The IAAF Council’s vote will count for 50 per cent of the result, with the IAAF Family and public votes accounting for 25 per cent each.
Voting closes on October 16 when the three finalists will be announced. The winners will be named at the World Athletes of the Year Gala in Monaco on November 24.