Wayde van Niekerk celebrates after winning gold in the 400m at the 2017 World Championships in London. Photo: REUTERS/John Sibley

JOHANNESBURG - Wayde van Niekerk could complete his coronation as the new sprint king of world athletics when the IAAF Male Athlete of the Year is announced in Monaco on Friday evening.

Walking away with the biggest accolade in global athletics would be the cherry on the cake of a stellar season.

Much of the hype ahead of this year’s London world championships was around Van Niekerk’s 200/400m double attempt.

To add to the occasion the championships were also billed as the changing of the guard as Jamaican sprinting legend Usain Bolt brought the curtain down on his illustrious career.

It was Van Niekerk’s consistent performances across distances during and in the build-up to the world champs that earned him his second nomination for athlete of the year.

“It is such an honour to be recognised as a finalist again,” the South African said when he was named as one of the three finalists.

Van Niekerk’s fellow nominees Mo Farrah of Great Britain and Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim are equally deserving of the ultimate prize.

High jump beanpole Barshim again proved his world-class form in 2017, going undefeated throughout the season and winning 11 competitions.

He won the world title in London before adding the Diamond League trophy, while he also became the first jumper to leap 2.40m or higher in five successive years.

Farah brought the curtain down on his career by winning a record 10th consecutive outdoor world distance running title.

He raced to the 10,000m title before winning the 5000m silver medal and adding the Diamond Trophy to tie up his season.

South Africans will be keeping their fingers crossed that Van Niekerk’s performances will be enough to earn him the gong.

Van Niekerk once again underlined his incredible versatility across the sprint events as he set new personal best times in the 100, 200, 300 and 400m.

Week 3 Gaining confidence to put pressure on my leg. Progress is very positive.

A post shared by Wayde van Niekerk (@waydedreamer) on

The Star

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