South African 400m world record holder Wayde van Niekerk is the only South African to make it through to the final stages of the 2017 IAAF World Athlete of the Year award.
Initially fellow Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya and silver medallist Luvo Manyonga were also in the mix. Voting closed on 16 October and the IAAF confirmed the finalists on Monday.
There are three finalists in the men's and women's categories after the first list of 10 men and 10 women.
Olympic 400m champion and record-holder, Van Niekerk is up against British 10 000m runner Mo Farah and Qatar high-jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim.
In the women's category Ethiopian 10 000m runner Almaz Ayana, pole vaulter Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece and Belgian heptathlete Nafissatou Thiam have been nominated.
The two winners will be announced at an event in Monaco on Friday, 24 November.