Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and Australia's Sally Pearson, the world 100m hurdles champion, were named IAAF athletes of the year in Monaco.
Bolt, the Olympic 100-metre champion, wins the award for the third time after being honoured in 2008 and 2009.
This year the 25-year-old notably retained his 200m crown at the world championships in Daegu where he also helped Jamaica defend the 4x100m relay in a new world record time of 37.04 seconds.
In South Korea, Bolt squandered his chance to defend his world 100m crown when he was disqualified from the final for a false start, allowing compatriot Yohan Blake to succeed him.
It was in Daegu that Pearson, 25, produced the fourth fastest time in history, and the fastest in 19 years, for the women's hurdles event which she dominated in a time of 12.21 seconds.
She becomes the first athlete from Oceania to be honoured by the IAAF since the awards were introduced in 1988.
Pearson won 10 of her 11 competitions and produced seven of the season's quickest 11 performances.
Both athletes will pick up cheques for $100,000 besides the award.