André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Back-to-back Olympic double sprint champion and world record holder, Usain Bolt, is on course to become the first man to win the IAAF World Athlete of the Year award on four occasions after he was named among three Jamaicans in the long list for the prestigious award.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who successfully defended her 100m title at the London Olympics and finished second in the 200m, along with last year's Performance of the Year recipient and double Olympic silver medallist, Yohan Blake, are the other Jamaicans among the 20 male and female candidates named by the IAAF.
Selected members of the international press and officials from the IAAF family will help to choose three male and female finalists before the Council of the International Athletics Foundation makes the final selection of male and female Athlete of the Year at a special ceremony in Barcelona, Spain, during the IAAF's centenary celebrations on November 24.
Bolt, who won the award in 2008, 2009 and again last year, was again in dominating form this season winning the 100m and 200m titles at the London Olympics with times of 9.63 (second fastest in history) and 19.32, respectively.
He also won the 100m title on the lucrative Diamond League circuit and anchored Jamaica to a world record in the Olympic Games 4x100m relays, also in London.
Bolt, along with Moroccan great Hicham El Guerrouj, are the only athletes to have won the award on three occasions.
Fraser-Pryce repeated her Beijing 2008 exploits in London winning the 100m, while finishing with silver medals in the 200m and 4x100m. She also won the 100m event in the Diamond League to wrap up another successful year for the diminutive sprinter.
Blake, who was recognised for his 19.26 200m run in Brussels at last year's awards ceremony in Monaco, claimed silver in the 100m and 200m in London and was also a part of Jamaica's record-breaking 4x100m team.
Blake won all of his races this season, except for his two defeats to Bolt in the Olympic 100m and 200m finals.
The voting panel will have a lot to think about as also in the mix are the likes of Aries Merritt, Ashton Eaton, David Rudisha and Kirani James.
United States' 110m hurdles star Merritt had an amazing year, following up a World Indoor title with a gold medal at the Olympic Games and a series wins in the Diamond League.
Merritt also shattered the 110m hurdles world record and posted eight sub-13 times this season making him a major candidate for top honours.
Rudisha, who again broke the 800m world record this season did so en route to winning gold at the Olympic Games, while Eaton won the Olympic and World Indoor gold medals, both in world record fashion in the decathlon event.
James, meanwhile, won the 400m in London in the fastest time recorded in over four years.
On the female side, Fraser-Pryce will face stern competition from the likes of Olympic/World Indoors shot put champion and Diamond League winner, Valerie Adams, and last year's winner, Olympic and World Indoors 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson.
Olympic 20km race walk champion, Russia's Yelena Lashmanova, is the only female among the 10 candidates to have broken a world record this year and like Olympic and World Indoors long jump champion Brittney Reese and Olympic and World 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross will be feeling positive about their chances.
Male candidates: (alphabetical order)
Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt, Ashton Eaton, Mohamed Farah, Robert Harting, Kirani James, Renaud Lavillenie, Aries Merritt, David Rudisha, Christian Taylor.
Valerie Adams, Tirunesh Dibaba, Jessica Ennis, Allyson Felix, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Yelena Lashmanova, Sally Pearson, Brittney Reese, Sanya Richards-Ross, Barbora Spotáková.