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  • Writer's pictureCarrie McDonald

The Best of 2023: The World Athletics Awards Recap

2023 was a phenomenal year for track and field, with athletes setting an extraordinary 23 world records across the sport. World Athletics honored the most impressive performances at its annual World Athletics Awards on Dec. 11. Let’s take a look back at the winners and the most memorable feats of 2023. 


Breaking with the tradition of naming a singular World Athlete of the Year (male or female), World Athletics adopted a new format for its awards this year, dividing winners into men’s and women’s track, field, and out-of-stadia categories.  


Although some athletes criticized the new arrangement for detracting from the glory of a singular Athlete of the Year, World Athletics defended its decision to honor six athletes because of the multitude of unforgettable performances across a diversity of disciplines. 


“The depth of talent and the outstanding performances in our sport this year more than justify the expansion of the World Athletics Awards to recognize the accomplishments by these six athletes across a range of disciplines,” World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said

Ultimately, World Athletics named Faith Kipyegon, Yulimar Rojas, and Tigist Assefa as the big winners. 



The finalists for the women's Athlete of the Year Awards. Photo credit to @WorldAthletics/Instagram.


Women’s Track: Faith Kipyegon, Kenya, 1500m/Mile/5000m


Kipyegon arguably had the best track season in history with consecutive world record performances in the 1500m, the mile, and the 5000m on the Diamond League circuit.


Kipyegon celebrates her 1500m world record with her competitors at the Florence Diamond League. Photo credit to @FaithKipyegon/Instagram.

Kipyegon’s dominance continued at the World Championships in Budapest, where she became the first woman to win both the 1500m and the 5,000m events at a singular World Championships. In 2024, she will look to continue her dominance by earning her third consecutive Olympic gold medal in the 1,500m. 



Kipyegon poses with her Women's Track Athlete of the Year award. Photo credit to @FaithKipyegon/Instagram.

Women’s Field: Yulimar Rojas, Venezuela, Triple Jump


Rojas jumped her way into the history books with her victory in the triple jump at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest. Her 15.08m jump in the last round catapulted her from eighth place to the gold medal position, leading her to become the first woman to win four consecutive world titles in a field event. 



2023 also saw Rojas win her third consecutive Diamond League title with her 15.35m jump at the final in Eugene. Her performance fell just 39cm shy of her own world record, set in 2022. 


Women’s Out of Stadia: Tigist Assefa, Ethiopia, Marathon


Assefa’s victory at the Berlin Marathon in September not only set a new world record but challenged the limits of what many thought possible. Closing out the 26.2-mile race with extraordinary speed, the former 800m track specialist improved upon Brigid Kosgei’s previous world record of 2:14:04 — set at the 2019 Chicago Marathon — by an astonishing two minutes and 11 seconds. 


Rising Star: Faith Cherotich of Kenya


19-year-old Cherotich took home the Rising Star Award, alongside fellow Kenyan teenager Emmanuel Wanyonyi, the 2023 men’s Diamond League Champion in the 800m. A world 2022 U20 gold medalist in the 3000m steeplechase, Cherotich shone on the senior stage, winning bronze medals in the event at the 2023 World Championships and Diamond League.



Cherotich and compatriot Kipyegon pose with their awards. Photo credit to @FaithKipyegon/Instagram.

Honorable Mentions


World Athletics also announced Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson and the Netherlands’ Femke Bol as finalists for the award for their standout performances on the track. Jackson had a stellar year, winning the 200m and earning a silver medal in the 100m at the World Championships, before winning both events at the Diamond League. 


With Sydney McLauhglin-Levrone’s move to the 400m sprint, Bol dominated the 400m hurdles this year, cruising to the 400m hurdles world title and setting a new indoor world record in the 400m flat. Although Bol did not walk away with an Athlete of the Year award, her coach, Laurent Meuwly, took home the Coaching Achievement Award in recognition of his achievements. 


Bol celebrates after winning the 400m hurdles at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest. Photo credit to @femke_bol/Instagram

 

World Athletics also recognized Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey, who holds the world record in the 10,000m, with the International Fair Play Award. Following her silver medal performance in the 10k at the World Championships in Budapest, Gidey returned to console the Netherlands' Sifan Hassan, whose gold medal hopes ended with a dramatic fall meters from the finish line. 



Finally, World Athletics also honored Tchanile-Salifou, ​​president of the Togolese athletics federation, as Woman of the Year for her work advancing gender equality. 

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