The Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and the American women's 400 metres world champion Sanya Richards are world athletes of the year.
New Zealand's World and Olympic shot put champion Valerie Villi was one of the nominees for the women's award.
Bolt won the award for the second year in a row after breaking his 100 and 200 metres world records at the Berlin world championships in August.
The International Association of Athletics Federations president Lamine Diack says Bolt has raised his peformances to an unbelievable level after winning three gold medals at Olympics in Beijing last year and not losing a final this year.
Richards won the award in 2006,