The International Athletic Foundation of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) recognizes on an annual basis the outstanding athletes from around the globe who performed exceptionally in the calendar year with the World Athlete Of The Year Award.
The World Athlete of the Year award has been received by some exceptional athletes including African athletes over the years. It as seen the great Usain Bolt winning it for a record breaking six times but also great Africans like Kenya’s David Rudisha and Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana.
This year, five African athletes made it into the nomination list for the World Athlete Of The Year Award. The shortlist for the prize came out on the 2nd of October 2017.
The Five African Athletes Nominated For The 2017 World Athlete Of The Year Award
Elijah Motonei Manangoi
This Kenyan middle distance runner saw his international career kicking off in 2014 when he was a part of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. He also competed in the 1500 metres race at the 2015 World Championships in Athletics in Beijing where he ran off with the silver medal. His gold, however, came when he ran in the 2017 World Championships and that performance seems to be what has earned him a place on the shortlist.
Wayde van Niekerk
This track and field great is the current world record holder, world champion and Olympic champion in the 400 metres. He also holds the world best time in the 300 metres and in 2016 became the first, and to date, only, sprinter in history to have run the 100 m in under 10 seconds, the 200 m in under 20 seconds and the 400 m in under 44 seconds.
The 25-year old sprinter has had an awesome year. He took home gold and silver in the 200 metres and 400 metres at the World Championships in London and followed it up in September by coming so close to becoming the second man in history to win the 200m-400m double gold.
Almaz Ayana has won the the World Athlete Award in the category for women and just last year for that matter. The 25-year-old Ethiopian long distance runner took this yer in stride coming second in the 5000 metres and first in the 10000 metres at the World Championships in London.
Caster Semanya has not allowed any controversy about her gender slow her down. The South African runner won gold in the women’s 800 metres and bronze in the 1500 metres at the World Championships in London this year and then went ahead to win the 800m race at Oslo in the Diamond League.
We cannot forget her amazing 2016 record where she became the first person to win all three of the 400-metres, 800-metres, and 1500-metres titles at the South African National Championships.
The only African athlete up for nomination who is not a runner. The 26 year old is a professional long jumper. His own international success started way back in 2009 when he won bronze at the African Junior Athletics Championships.
After an addiction to crystal methamphetamine in 2011, he made a comeback in 2016 and was subsequently ranked in the world’s top ten jumpers and won the first position at the World Championships this year.