Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and Ethiopian distance runner Tirunesh Dibaba head the finalists for the IAAF's world athlete of the year awards.
Bolt won three gold medals with world records in the 100 and 200 meters and 4x100m relay at the Beijing Games, while Dibaba broke the 5,000-meter world record by over five minutes in June and swept the women's 5,000m and 10,000m in Beijing.
Jamaica's Usain Bolt displays the national flag of Jamaica after taking men's 100m final at the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, during Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Aug. 16, 2008. Usain Bolt claimed the title of the event and broke the world record. [Xinhua]
Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele, who completed the men's 5,000-10,000 double in Beijing, and Cuban Dayron Robles, who broke the 110-meter hurdles record in June and took the gold in Beijing, are the other men's finalists announced by the governing body IAAF on Monday.
The other women's contenders are Kenyan teenager Pamela Jelimo, who won the women's 800 meters in Beijing and collected the $1 million jackpot by winning her event at all six Golden League meetings, and Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, who set the 24th world record of her career to win the Olympic gold with a vault of 5.05 meters.
The final winners will be announced at the World Athletics Gala on November 23 in Monte Carlo.
The vote conducted among the IAAF family (officials from the body and its member federations, leading athletes and media) and the public closed on Sunday.
The 1,512 entries from the IAAF weigh 70 per cent in the vote, and the public's 493,353 votes via the IAAF website count 30 per cent.
Tirunesh Dibaba (C) of Ethiopia competes in the final of women's 10,000 meters at the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Aug. 15, 2008. Tirunesh Dibaba claimed the title of the event with a time of 29 mins 54.66 secs. [Xinhua]
(Xinhua News Agency November 11, 2008)