NAIROBI, Kenya- Kenyan world champions, Hellen Obiri and Elijah Manangoi made the shortlists for the IAAF World Athlete of the Year released by the world governing body on Monday.
Obiri added the women 5000m world title to her Olympic silver medal from the Rio 2016 Games besides winning the Diamond Race in her event during the 2017 IAAF Diamond League.
Manangoi dethroned three-time champion, Asbel Kiprop from the men 1500m throne at London 2017 to upgrade on the silver he won at the 2015 edition in Beijing as well as setting the world leading time at the distance.
For the first in the history of the awards launched in 1989, social media votes will count towards the final tallying that will determine the final shortlist of three female and three male athletes who will be invited for the World Gala in Monaco.
The voting exercise will close on October 16.
“The IAAF Council and the IAAF Family will cast their votes by email, while fans can vote online via the IAAF’s social media platforms. Individual graphics for each nominee will be posted on Facebook and Twitter later this week; a ‘like’ or ‘favourite’ will count as one vote.
“The IAAF Council’s vote will count for 50 percent of the result, while the IAAF Family’s votes and the public votes will each count for 25 percent of the final result,” the world governing body said in a statement.
“At the conclusion of the voting process, three men and three women finalists will be announced by the IAAF.
“The male and female World Athletes of the Year will be announced live on stage at the IAAF Athletics Awards 2017,” the IAAF added.
The news comes barely 48 hours after Obiri, 27, was elected unopposed as the new Athletes’ Representative (women) alongside Kenya 7s star, Humphrey Kayange (men) at the National Olympic Committee-Kenya during the Elective General Assembly in Nairobi.
She will vie for the Female Athlete of the Year that has previously never been won by a Kenya against Ethiopian Almaz Ayana, the women 10000m champion, she scorched on August 13 for gold number four for Team Kenya at London 2017.
South African three-time women 800m champion, Caster Semenya, who picked up the bronze in 1500m is the third African in the 10-woman shortlist for the award won by Ayana last year.
London 2017 titleholders; Sally Pearson (women 110m Hurdles/Australia), Russian Maria Lasitskene (High jump) who competed as a neutral athlete following her country’s doping ban, Sandra Perkovic of Croatia (Discus throw), Brittney Reese (USA/Long jump), Ekaterini Stefanidi (Greece/Pole vault), Nafissatou Thiam (Heptathlon) and Anita Wlodarczyk (Hammer throw) round the list.
Manangoi is in line to become only the second ever Kenyan to collect the prestigious Male Athlete of the Year after David Rudisha was crowned in 2010.
The 25 year-old who hails from Narok County and from the same Maasai community as the men 800m Olympic champion and world record holder Rudisha, recovered from an injury nightmare at last year’s Rio 2016 Olympics to that ruled him out of the final soar to Kenya’s fifth gold medal at London 2017.
“I’m happy I have been nominated for the 2017 IAAF World Athlete of the year. The IAAF Athletics Awards Gala will be held in Monaco in November. Fans can vote for me online via the IAAF’S social media Platforms,” Manangoi wrote on his Facebook page.
His younger brother, George Maitemei Manangoi, set the pace for the world 1500m champion when he stormed to the Under 18 title at the Nairobi 2017 IAAF WU18 Championships in July and barely three weeks later, his senior delivered the coveted title.
There is no Jamaican sprint legend, Usain Bolt, the unprecedented six-time winner in the long-list of 10 for the Male Athlete of the Year Award, who retired from the sport at London 2017 with bronze in the men 100m.
Instead, Manangoi will vie for the honours with among others, British distance running icon, Mo Farah who retired from track running with gold in the men 10000m and silver in the 5000m, South Africa Olympic and world men 400m champion, Wayde van Niekerk who made the final three-man shortlist last year.
The Male and Female Athletes of the Year will be announced at the IAAF Awards Gala in Monaco on Friday, November 24.
2017 World Athlete of the Year nominees
Mutaz Essa Barshim (QAT)
Pawel Fajdek (POL)
Mohamed Farah (GBR)
Sam Kendricks (USA)
Elijah Manangoi (KEN)
Luvo Manyonga RSA)
Omar McLeod (JAM)
Christian Taylor (USA)
Wayde van Niekerk (RSA)
Johannes Vetter (GER)
Almaz Ayana (ETH)
Maria Lasitskene (ANA)
Hellen Obiri (KEN)
Sally Pearson (AUS)
Sandra Perkovic (CRO)
Brittney Reese (USA)
Caster Semenya (RSA)
Ekaterini Stefanidi (GRE)
Nafissatou Thiam (BEL)
Anita Wlodarczyk (POL)