By Mark Jenkin
Genzebe Dibaba is among three women to make the shortlist for the World Athlete of the Year Award given by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
The Ethiopian track star has enjoyed an outstanding year, setting three indoor world records for the 1500m, 3000m and 2 miles within 15 days in February.
She then won gold over 3000m at the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Sopot, Poland.
Genzebe, 23, is joined on the shortlist by New Zealand’s Valerie Adams, who won Commonwealth and World Indoor titles at shot-put and extended her unbeaten run to 56 competitions.
The third contender for the women’s prize is Dafne Schippers, from the Netherlands, the heptathlete who won the 100m and 200m sprint titles at the European Championships.
The three contenders for the men’s award are Dennis Kimetto, the marathon world record breaker from Kenya, Renaud Lavillenie, the pole vaulter from France, and Mutaz Essa Barshim, the high jumper from Qatar.
Representatives from the IAAF, national federations and members of the media selected the six finalists from an initial list of 10 men and 10 women. The winners will be decided by the International Athletics Foundation council and announced at the 2014 World Athletics Gala in Monaco on November 21.
Genzebe, the younger sister of three-time Olympic gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba and Olympic silver medalist Ejegayehu Dibaba, is hoping to become the first Ethiopian winner of the women’s award since Meseret Defar in 2007.
Previous winners of the men’s prize include Kenenisa Bekele in 2004 and 2005 and Haile Gebrselassie in 1998. Ethiopian athletes have enjoyed victories this week in testing marathon racing conditions around the world.
In the heat and humidity of the Netherlands, Betelhem Moges showed her strength to win the Amsterdam Marathon in 2 hours 28 minutes 35 seconds.
The 23-year-old gained her first marathon victory in only her second race at the distance, finishing 40 seconds clear of Ogla Kimaiyo, the second-placed athlete from Kenya. Diane Nukuri Johnson, from Burundi, was third in 2-29-35.
The next three places went to Ethiopian athletes with Megertu Ifa fourth in 2-32-31, Guteni Shone fifth in 2-36-57 and Worknesh Alemu sixth in 2-38-07. Betelhem has a best time of 2-26-42 set while finishing fifth on her marathon debut in Dubai in January.
The men’s champion was Bernard Kipyego who clocked 2-06-22 to win his first marathon at the 11th attempt, leading Kenya to the top three places. Thick smog in the Chinese capital did not prevent a double victory for Ethiopia in the Beijing Marathon on Sunday.
Girmay Birhanu won the men’s race in 2 hours 10 minutes 42 seconds and Fatuma Sado was the women’s champion in 2-30-03.
Birhanu finally edged away from his compatriot Abebe Degefa over the last 500m to finish 12 seconds ahead.
There was an Ethiopian one-two in the women’s race too, as 23-year-old Sado claimed her fourth marathon triumph and Meseret Kitata was second in 2-31-08.
Thousands of runners wore face masks during the race amid concerns the thick smog had reached hazardous levels.