Mutaz Essa Barshim and Valerie Adams among athletes in contention for awards
The IAAF has announced the names of the six finalists who remain in contention for 2014 World Athletes of the Year honours.
Mutaz Essa Barshim, Dennis Kimetto and Renaud Lavillenie have been selected from the 10-strong male shortlist, while Valerie Adams, Genzebe Dibaba and Dafne Schippers are the final three for the women’s award.
Neither sprinter Justin Gatlin, whose inclusion on the shortlist after drugs bans prompted a number of fans and athletes to voice their displeasure, or Olympic discus champion Robert Harting, who requested to be removed from the list in a stance against doping, made the finalists stage.
The initial announcement of the 20 candidates earlier this month had been overshadowed by Harting asking to be removed from the list as he did not want to stand for nomination alongside a former doping offender.
The finalists were selected after a two-week-long poll of the ‘world athletics family’ which included IAAF and International Athletic Foundation (IAF) council and staff members, national federations, meeting directors and press.
From the six finalists, the IAF council will now select the male and female winners, with the announcement taking place at the World Athletics Gala in Monaco on November 21.
Shot put star Adams, who extended her winning streak to 56 competitions in 2014 and added another world indoor and Commonwealth title to her multiple world and Olympic gold medals, is a finalist once again, the 30-year-old having also finished in the top three last year as the female honour went to Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
Last year’s male award again went to Usain Bolt, marking only the third time that athletes from the same country had won both awards. With his year having been interrupted by injury, Bolt – who has won the IAAF male athlete of the year award a record five times – did not feature on this year’s shortlist.
Adams is joined on the female list by Dibaba, who set three world indoor records in just 15 days in February over 1500m, 2 miles and 3000m as well as won the world indoor 3000m title and claimed victory outdoors over the same distance at the Continental Cup, and Schippers, who won European 100m and 200m gold despite still concentrating on the heptathlon.
Barshim, who has contributed to an incredible year of high jump battles, cleared an Asian record 2.43m to win in Brussels, that mark being one that only world record holder Javier Sotomayor has bettered. The Qatari also won world indoor gold in Sopot, Asian indoor and outdoor titles and claimed overall victory in the Diamond League.
For the men’s honour he goes up against Kimetto, who became the first to break 2:03 for the marathon with 2:02:57 in Berlin, and Lavillenie, who cleared 6.16m indoors to break Sergey Bubka’s 21-year-old pole vault world record and also claimed his third European title, won the overall Diamond League title and extended his unbeaten streak to 21 competitions before he failed to clear a height in Stockholm.
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