By Victor Kanayo
World Athletics (WA) has named six athletes including Tigist Assefa, Mondo Duplantis, Kelvin Kiptum, Faith Kipyegon, Noah Lyles and Yulimar Rojas as World Athletes of the Year for 2023.
The world champions and world record-breakers were the final winners to be revealed as part of the World Athletics Awards 2023, following confirmation of this year’s Rising Stars: world 3000m steeplechase bronze medallist Faith Cherotich and world 800m silver medallist Emmanuel Wanyonyi.
Incidentally, last year overall winner, Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan who blossomed like a million star to break hurdles record in 2022 couldn’t make it this time around.
The Process, Outcome
The adaptation of the World Athlete of the Year honours awarded this year follows feedback received during the voting process.
Many sensational performances – including an extraordinary 23 world records – were achieved in 2023. When it came to compiling the votes, athletes, fans and World Athletics Family members commented that it was incredibly hard to limit the vote to just one athlete, because of the various disciplines and the vast differences in skill sets required. As a result, for 2023 the World Athlete of the Year awards have been divided into three event categories: track, field and out of stadia.
Fresh World Records, Performance Ratings
Assefa, Duplantis, Kiptum and Kipyegon set world records in their respective events in 2023, while all six World Athletes of the Year secured world titles or major marathon wins.
The moment of the year for Assefa came at the BMW Berlin Marathon in September, when the Ethiopian 27-year-old ran 2:11:53, smashing the world record by two minutes and 14 seconds and achieving the biggest single improvement on the mark for 40 years.
She finished almost six minutes ahead of her nearest rival after clocking 1:06:20 for the first half and an even faster 1:05:33 for the second half – a time that just seven women have beaten this year in a standalone half marathon.
Kiptum also achieved his world record in a World Athletics Platinum Label road race, running 2:00:35 at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October.
Becoming the first athlete to break 2:01 in a record-eligible marathon, the 24-year-old Kenyan won the race by almost three and a half minutes and took 34 seconds off Eliud Kipchoge’s previous world record.
Just one year on from his marathon debut, Kiptum now has three of the seven fastest times in history to his name having also won the TCS London Marathon in April in 2:01:25.
Duplantis improved his world pole vault record both indoors and outdoors in 2023, while he also retained the world title and achieved 20 clearances of 6.00m or higher.
Indoors, the Swedish 24-year-old added a centimetre to his previous outright best, clearing 6.22m in Clermont-Ferrand.
During the outdoor season, he secured his second consecutive world title in Budapest and then won his third Wanda Diamond League trophy with a clearance of 6.23m on his first attempt to better his world record by another centimetre.
Kipyegon set world records at an incredible three distances during a season in which she also achieved a golden double at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23.
First, the 29-year-old Kenyan improved the world 1500m record to 3:49.11 in Florence, taking almost a full second off the previous mark. Just one week later, and despite having raced the 5000m just twice before, she improved the world record for that event too, clocking 14:05.20 in Paris to shave 1.42 seconds from the old record.
Her third world record came in Monaco, where she smashed the previous mile mark by five seconds, clocking 4:07.64. Then, in Budapest, she won her third senior world 1500m title and her first world 5000m crown.
Lyles also achieved an individual title double at the World Championships in Budapest, winning 100m gold and retaining his 200m title before forming part of USA’s victorious 4x100m team.
The 26-year-old won the 100m in 9.83 �