PRETORIA, October 17-New world marathon record holder, Dennis Kimetto’s incredible year could have the glorious ending of being named the IAAF World Male Athlete of the Year after he made the shortlisted final three on Friday.
The 30 year-old unfurled the astonishing 2:02:57 victory at the Berlin Marathon on September 28 to shatter the previous record set at the same course by Volare Sport stable-mate, Wilson Kipsang by a whopping 26 seconds.
Kimetto, who also holds the Chicago (2:03:45) and Tokyo (2:06:50) course records has strung a run of three victories in his five marathons with a credible second placing at the 2012 Berlin Marathon (2:04:16) on his debut and the DNF at this year’s Boston race where he was hamstrung being the only occasions he has not scaled the middle step of the podium.
As the IAAF ratification procedures to formalise his world record continue, Kimetto will travel to the annual World Gala in Monaco where he is up against French Pole vault sensation, Renaud Lavillenie and Qatari High jumper Mutaz Barshim to succeed record five-time winner, Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt as the Male Athlete of the Year.
If he wins, Kimetto will become the second Kenyan in the country’s glittering athletics history to bag the crown after Olympic champion and 800m world record holder, David Rudisha, the only runner in the past six years to break the Bolt hegemony when he took the prize in 2010.
Beijing OIympics champion, Pamela Jelimo and Daegu double world champion, Vivian Cheruiyot were awarded the Most Promising and Most Outstanding accolades in 2008 and 2011, the only other occasions Kenyans made the final shortlist.
US sprinter Justin Gatlin has been ditched from the final shortlist for World Athlete of the Year, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) revealed on Friday.
Gatlin, who has twice served doping bans, was a controversial inclusion on the original 10-man shortlist announced on October 3.
The prospect of a convicted drugs cheat winning the IAAF’s athlete of the year award caused outrage in some quarters.
Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m gold medallist and double sprint world champion in 2005, belied his 32 years during an incredible season which saw him record the three fastest times this year in the 100 metres, and the fastest times in the 100m and 200m ever by a man in his 30s.
But there will be relief that Gatlin has not made the final shortlist of three names.
In the women’s World Athlete of the Year final shortlist, Africa’s interests will be on the shoulders of Genzebe Dibaba, the World Indoor 1500m champion who broke three world records in the closed circuit in March before bagging the Continental Cup and IAAF Diamond League honours.
Genzebe is hoping to upstage her decorated elder sibling, Tirunesh who won the Outstanding Performance awards at the 2005 and 2008 galas without bagging the major prize.
Shot putter Valarie Adams of New Zealand and Dutch 200m Continental Cup champion complete the shortlist.
The finalists were selected after a two-week-long poll of the world athletics family.
The Council of the International Athletics Foundation will select the male and female winners, with the announcement taking place live on stage during the 2014 World Athletics Gala in Monaco on November 21.