This year continues to be a marvellous one for South African athletics. Three of our athletes have the chance to make history by winning IAAF Athlete of the Year at the IAAF Athletics Awards 2017 in Monaco on Friday, November 24.
South African athletics is alive. That's a fact.— Caster Semenya (@caster800m) July 16, 2017
On Tuesday, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced the nominees for the men's and women's world athlete of the year, with Caster Semenya, Wayde van Niekerk and Luvo Manyonga all in contention to win the prestigious award.
If Semenya wins the women's award, she will be the first South African woman in 14 years to do so. If Van Niekerk or Manyonga wins the men's, it'll be the first time a male athlete from South Africa has won it.
South African athletics will be on the verge of global domination and could fulfil the country's potential to be an athletics giant. Here's why we think all three nominees deserve to run away with the award.
Semenya made history in August, when she scooped the gold medal in the 800m of the IAAF Championship in London.
She defended her 800m title and ran her lifetime best with a time of 1:55:16. She won her second medal in the championship and claimed her first gold in an IAAF Championship as she reigned supreme.
In 2016, she won an Olympic gold medal in the 800m -- just to remind critics of her greatness.
Semenya continues to raise the bar and is solidifying her place as the best female 800m runner. She might have made personal history, but her personal achievement elevates the pride of South Africa and athletics.
Wayde van Niekerk
Van Niekerk gave an emotional interview in August after winning gold in the 400m and silver in the 200m at the IAAF Championship in London. He broke down in tears and said he "deserved" what he had achieved in the championship.
Van Niekerk ran six races in six days.
"There have been quite a lot of people that felt I didn't deserve it, I'm glad I could come out today and put out a good fight. I really believe this is just the beginning," he said.
He defended his IAAF title, cruising to victory in 43.98 seconds and proving to critics that he is a deserved champion.
With Usain Bolt out of the picture since his retirement, this is the perfect opportunity for Van Niekerk to begin his new reign as the world's next global athletics star.
He's already on the road to becoming South Africa's greatest sporting star. South Africans are becoming accustomed to Van Niekerk winning gold in every race he competes in. He flies the flag high and continues to personify the rewards of training hard.
Manyonga overcame drug addiction to win a silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics in the men's long jump. In 2017, he went one up and won gold in the IAAF Championships in London, becoming the new king of the long jump event.
South Africans are beaming with pride and we wish all three of our athletes the best of luck for the IAAF Athlete of the Year Award.