Who?

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 26, Jamaica’s 5ft-tall pocket rocket. History woman.

Why should she win?

She became the first woman in 22 years to complete the 100m/200m sprint double at a world championships, and added a third gold as part of the triumphant Jamaican 4x100m team. She also topped the annual season’s ranking (World Lists) in both the 100m and 200m.

Why not?

Unlike her two other rivals for the IAAF Female Athlete of the Year award (see below), Fraser-Pryce did actually taste defeat this season: once in the 100m and twice over 200m.

Season highlight

That blistering 10.71 she recorded to regain the world 100m she last won in Berlin four years ago. It was the second fastest 100m performance of her career. Only three women have ever gone quicker.

Does she have any previous?

Despite a medal-laden career, including 100m gold at the last two Olympic Games, Fraser-Pryce has never been a finalist for the IAAF Athlete of the Year award. The last and only Jamaican woman to win the award was Merlene Ottey, some 23 years ago.

Most likely to say…

Well, she’s most likely to laugh. Shelly-Ann laughs a lot.

Least likely to…

Shave off her hair before the ceremony. She launched hair extension business ‘Chic Hair Ja’ earlier this year.

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Who?

Valerie Adams, 29, Shot put titan – literally and metaphorically – from New Zealand. Watch Val catch up with SPIKES after winning her fourth world title (VIDEO).

Why should she win?

Adams won 12 out of 12 competitions, and created history in Moscow by becoming the first woman to land four successive world titles. Her remarkable unbeaten streak stretches back 42 competitions: she last lost in Zurich in August 2010. Oh, and she achieved it all with a bad knee.

Why not?

This is a tough one. It’s difficult to form a cogent argument really, except to suggest that she could have thrown further. Queen Val didn’t surpass the 21m mark, unlike in three of the past four seasons. She didn’t need to.

Season highlight

That fourth successive world title and subsequent celebration in Moscow was magical. She also set an Oceania indoor record of 20.98m in Zurich Railway Station in August, with the fifth best throw of her career.

At the London Diamond League in July she looked like she was using a lighter shot than the rest of the field: launching all six efforts beyond 20m and winning by more than a metre.

Does she have any previous?

Always the bridesmaid… Val has been a finalist three times (2009, 2011 and 2012), but might very well be the bride in 2013. She’s also attending the gala for the first time ever this year.

Most likely to say…

Thanks, JP. Val credits coach Jean-Pierre Egger with transforming her career.

Least likely to…

Seek out karaoke to sing cult Aussie classic ‘Down Under’ by Men At Work.

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Who?

Zuzana Hejnova, 26, unbeatable Czech 400m hurdler. Click here to find out why she thinks it has all gone so well this season.

Why should she win?

With 11 wins out of 11 finals this year, Hejnova was just too good for her rivals in the 400m hurdles. She comfortably secured the IAAF Diamond League title, the world title, and clocked nine of the 11 fastest times in the world this year.

Why not?

Perfection is hard to knock, but although the Czech was superb, her lifetime best time of 52.83, clocked when winning the world title in Moscow, is only good enough for 12th on the all-time lists.

Season highlight

That victory in Moscow. Hejnova won gold by a record-winning margin of 1.26 seconds.

Does she have any previous?

No, 2013 was a massive breakthrough season for the Czech, so it is the first time she has made the shortlist, let alone the final three. She has already won the 2013 female European Athlete of the Year award, and her javelin throwing compatriot Jan Železný won the men’s IAAF gong in 2000.

Most likely to say…

Cheers, boys. She reckons that training with men like European 400m champion Pavel Maslak has helped her to have an amazing season.

Least likely to…

Impossible to say. At the last two Czech ‘Athlete of the Year’ shows, Hejnova has formed part of a Spice Girls tribute act – and played a piano solo.