Who’ll be crowned king of athletics?

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With the superheroes of world athletics busy ironing their party pants for the 2013 IAAF World Athlete of the Year Gala in Monaco this weekend, SPIKES gives you the 411 on the three contenders for best man: Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and Bohdan Bondarenko.

Who?

Usain Bolt, 27, very tall Jamaican sprinter. 100m and 200m GOAT. Told us in July that he wants to run a sub-19 second 200m.

Why should he win?

Bolt officially became a legend in London last year, and another stellar season has elevated him even higher in the pantheon of all-time greats, in any sport. At the Moscow 2013 World Championships he won the 100m, 200m and 4x100m treble to move level with Carl Lewis, Allyson Felix and Michael Johnson, on a record-equalling eight world gold medals.

Why not?

It sounds a bit churlish, but we have not seen Bolt at his absolute best in 2013. He lost twice: to Justin Gatlin over 100m in Rome, and in an early season 400m. His fastest 100m time for the season of 9.77 only matched his eighth best ever, and his 200m season’s best matched his tenth.

Season highlight

Regaining his world 100m title in a thunderstorm, clocking 9.77 as lightning struck. Only Bolt could ever do it.

Does he have any previous?

Last season he won an unprecedented fourth IAAF World Athlete of the Year award, out of the past five.

Most likely to say…

Don’t worry, be happy.

Least likely to…

Turn down the chance to DJ at the IAAF after-party and retire to bed at 10pm.

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Who?

Mo Farah, 30, British distance running hero. Pointy beard. Click here to read about Alberto Salazar’s running school where Mo learns all his tricks.

Why should he win?

He became only the second athlete in history (the other being Kenenisa Bekele) to follow up 5000m and 10,000m gold at the Olympic Games with more of the same at the next year’s world championships. He also showed off incredible versatility by setting a European 1500m record of 3:28.81 in Monaco.

Why not?

He may be the world’s best distance runner, but critics can point to the fact that he rarely comes near the top of the season’s rankings. In 2013 he was only the 16th fastest man in the world over 5000m, and the 11th fastest for the 10,000m.

Season highlight

Mo holding off the challenge of the East Africans in the 5000m in Moscow takes some beating, but his WOW moment came in Monaco. That stunning and unexpected 1500m performance places him sixth on the all-time lists for that event.

Does he have any previous?

In a high-class year in 2012, he failed to make the three-man shortlist. However, Great Britain boasts a strong tradition of winners like Steve Backley, Jonathan Edwards and Colin Jackson, Sally Gunnell and Paula Radcliffe.

Most likely to say…

#Shabba

Least likely to…

Be stony-faced and grumpy at the dinner table.

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Who?

Bohdan Bondarenko, 24, Ukraine’s extremely long high jumper. Click here to learn about the man himself in his own words.

Why should he win?

For a sensational year in which he twice cleared 2.41m. Only Cuban world record holder Javier Sotomayor had ever jumped above the 2.40m barrier more than once in an outdoor season. Bondarenko also won world high jump gold in Moscow AND clinched the IAAF Diamond League title.

Why not?

In a near-perfect season it is very hard to pick a fault. He lost just one competition in 15 (where he finishing second to Mutaz Essa Barshim in Shanghai). Bondarenko also tried to clear 2.47m at the London Diamond League, which is just crazy high!

Season highlight

Winning an epic world high jump final inside a rocking Luzhniki Stadium, with a best of 2.41m. Barshim and Canada’s Derek Drouin claimed silver and bronze with 2.38m (good enough for gold at the previous nine editions). In terms of pure quality, it was the event of the championships.

Does he have any previous?

None whatsoever. The breakout star of the 2013 season has advanced his lifetime best by a monstrous 0.10m to become truly world-class. No Ukrainian athlete has ever won an IAAF World Athlete of the Year title…

Most likely to say…

Duzhe diakuiu. That’s ‘thank you very much’ in Ukrainian.

Least likely to…

Get the bus home (he’s a BIG fan of cars).