With just 16 days to go until the IAAF Athletics Awards 2016 which will reveal the name of the Men's World Athlete of the Year, we once again revisit the achievements of the three men's finalists.
Usain Bolt (JAM)
Usain Bolt went on to make history at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but early in the season, some doubts arose if he'd even reach the Rio start line.
Opening the season with three 100m victories in as many outings, the quickest in 9.88 in Kingston on 11 June, Bolt was sidelined by a hamstring injury which struck at the Jamaican Trials. He didn't contest the final, choosing to rest and recuperate for three weeks until his next outing.
He returned to action at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London where he won the 200m in 19.89, a race that was his final tune-up prior to the opening round of the 100m at the Olympic Games.
In Brazil, Bolt felt very much at home. First he dominated the 100m in 9.81 and came back four days later with a 19.78 victory in the 200m to secure a third straight Olympic title over both distances, a first. The following day he anchored Jamaica to victory in the 4x100m in 37.27, the fourth fastest of all time. His 9.81 gold medal-winning performance in Rio was the second fastest in the world, his 19.78 in the 200m the third fastest.
He ended his season unbeaten in six individual finals, having made history as the first athlete to win three consecutive Olympic triples.
Mo Farah (GBR)
Setting out on a historic course of his own, Mo Farah began his 5000m/10,000m double-double Olympic gold quest in earnest at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene where he beat a solid field over 10,000m in 26:53.71, a time which would hold up as the second fastest in the world this year.
A 3000m victory followed nine days later at the IAAF Diamond League stop in Birmingham. His final pre-Rio tune-up came in London; a 12:59.29 victory and world lead signalled he would arrive in Rio ready.
Once in Brazil, the scene was similar to that in every world or Olympic final since 2012. First came victory in the 10,000m in 27:05.17; a week later a successful title defence in the 5000m, where he clocked 13:03.30 to double his lifetime Olympic gold medal haul to four.
Farah, 33, ended the season unbeaten in six races over distances from 3000 to 10,000m, and, illustrating his exceptional range, also captured bronze at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff in March.
Wayde van Niekerk (RSA)
Unlike Bolt and Farah, who set out to make Olympic history this year, Wayde van Niekerk's primary objective was to enter the Olympic pantheon by building upon the foundation that led him to 400m world title in 2015. The 24-year-old succeeded brilliantly, by becoming one of the finest all-around sprinters in the world.
Van Niekerk ended the season unbeaten in 11 finals across three events – the 100m, 200m and 400m – but it was in the latter, his speciality, that he proved most astounding.
After a pair of routine races in the heats and semis, Van Niekerk romped home in the Olympic final, clocking a 43.03 world record from lane eight. He eclipsed the previous mark of 43.18 set by Michael Johnson 17 years earlier with a run that knocked a massive 0.45 from his previous personal best.
Earlier in the season, Van Niekerk produced a 100m PB of 9.98, making him the first man in history to run faster than 10 seconds for 100m, 20 seconds for 200m and 44 seconds for 400m. He also won the African titles at 200m and the 4x100m.
The voting process
The finalists were determined by a three-way voting process. The IAAF Council’s vote counted for 50% of the result, the IAAF Family’s* vote counted for 25% and a public vote, conducted via social media, counted for 25% of the final result.
The World Athletes of the Year will be announced live on stage at the IAAF Athletics Awards 2016 in Monaco on Friday 2 December.
*IAAF Family: IAAF member federations, IAAF Committee members, IAAF meeting directors, IAAF athlete ambassadors, athletes’ representatives, top athletes, members of the international press, IAAF staff members and the IAAF’s official partners.