Nikola Karabatic, left, and Cristina Neagu, right, have been named the 2016 IHF men's and women's Players of the Year ©IHF

Nikola Karabatic of France and Romania's Cristina Neagu have been named the 2016 International Handball Federation (IHF) men's and women's Players of the Year respectively.

Last month a panel consisting of IHF experts and the coaches of the best teams at the last IHF World Championships chose five nominees in each category.

The overall voting for the awards was based on three votes of "experts", the media and fans.

Karabatic and Neagu have both now won their respective awards three times in their careers.

The Frenchman won it in 2007 and 2014 while Neagu was awarded the honour in 2010 and 2015.

In the men's voting, Karabatic ranked first in all three votes.

The 32-year-old centre back was one of the star players of the French team that claimed the silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where he was also voted into the All-star Team, and the gold medal at the IHF World Championships on home soil.

Andreas Wolff of Germany came in second place while Denmark's Mikkel Hansen completed the top three.

Nikola Karabatic was part of the French team that claimed silver at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images
Nikola Karabatic was part of the French team that claimed silver at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

In the women’s category Neagu found herself in a tight race with Nora Mork of Norway and The Netherlands' Nycke Groot.

Neagu had been shortlisted after she ranked third in the top scorer lists of the European Handball Federation (EHF) Champions League, EHF Euro 2016 and Rio 2016.

It was the Romanian who won the decisive fan vote, however, with 37.14 per cent.

Mork took second place with Groot completing the top three.

The Coaches of the Year have also been named with Didier Dinart of France winning the men's award.

Dinart coached the French team to the 2017 World Championships title on home soil in January and silver at Rio 2016.

In the women’s category, Thorir Hergeirsson won the award for the fifth time in his career.

The Icelander, who coaches the Norwegian women's team, led them to bronze at Rio 2016 before the 52-year-old guided them to another European Championship title.