Ashton Eaton or Christian Taylor can become the first U.S. man to win the IAAF World Athlete of the Year since 2007, but either must beat Usain Bolt to do it.
Eaton, Taylor and Bolt, all 2012 Olympic and 2015 World champions, were named the three finalists for the award Wednesday. They were chosen by an international panel of experts from a long list of nine athletes.
Bolt swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at August’s World Championships. Taylor won the triple jump with the second-best jump of all time. Eaton broke his world record to win the decathlon.
Great Britain’s Mo Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m at Worlds, was among the star athletes who didn’t make the finalist cut.
When Eaton first broke the world record (and later won Olympic gold) in 2012, he was not one of the three finalists. That year, Bolt beat out world-record breakers David Rudisha and Aries Merritt.
The last U.S. man to win World Athlete of the Year was Tyson Gay in 2007. Bolt earned the honor five of the next six years before France pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie succeeded him in 2014.