The Australian is one of 10 women shortlisted, alongside fellow world champions crowned this year in London.
Pearson’s stunning win in the 100m hurdles at September’s world titles was her third major crown, previously winning gold at the 2011 world championships in Daegu and the 2012 London Olympics.
But a hamstring injury ended any chance of defending her Olympic title in Rio, coming on the back of a broken wrist the previous year and a separate Achilles problem.
“Wow! Wasn’t expecting this nomination. Shocked 2 be up this year against some remarkable athletes. Thank you (IAAF), I’m truly honoured,” Pearson tweeted on Tuesday.
Pearson has been nominated alongside controversial South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya, Ethiopian distance star Almaz Ayana and Olympic champion pole vaulter Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece.
Meanwhile, Usain Bolt has failed to make the 10-strong shortlist for the men’s award, with Wayde van Niekerk and Mo Farah among those getting the nod.
Four-time Olympic champion Farah won 10,000m gold and 5000m silver at the London world championships in his last major track outing while Van Nierkerk bagged 400m gold and 200m silver.
The nominees also include American triple jumper Christian Taylor and Jamaican hurdler Omar McLeod, but not retired Jamaican superstar Bolt, who was third over 100m and injured himself at the relay at the worlds.
Winners will be determined in a three-way voting process until October 16 after which three finalists will be named.
The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on November 24.
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