Van Niekerk joins Bolt and Farah on Athlete of the Year shortlist

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Wayde van Niekerk's stunning performance at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro has earned him a place alongside Usain Bolt and Mo Farah on the IAAF's World Athlete of the Year shortlist.

The South African won men's 400 metres gold in a world record time of 43.03 seconds in August, leaving pre-race favourites Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt in his wake.

In doing so, he shattered Michael Johnson's marker of 43.18secs, set by the American in August 1999.

Jamaican sprinter Bolt, a five-time winner of the award, is included after completing the 'triple triple' - three golds in three consecutive Games across the 100m, 200m and 4x100m, ending his Olympic career with a 100 per cent record.

Farah, meanwhile, defended his 5000m and 10,000m gold medals in Rio, while fellow distance runner Almaz Ayana is among the nominees in the female category.

The Ethiopian shaved 14 seconds off a 23-year-old world record in a 10,000m display that stunned the athletics world.

Ayana is up against Jamaica's Elaine Thompson, who completed a sprint double in Rio, and record-breaking Olympic hammer throw champion Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland.

Ashton Eaton won the men's prize in 2015, with Genzebe Dibaba scooping the women's award.