World Athletics Awards: 6 Incredible Black Athletes Who Stole the Limelight in 2023


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The World Athletics Awards, organized by World Athletics, is an annual event to celebrate the best athletics talents in the sport. The event was first held in 1988. Several black athletes have dominated the awards after outstanding performances throughout the calendar year. That’s not changed in 2023. Keep reading to find out who bagged the accolades.

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Emmanuel Wanyonyi

spotcovery-Emmanuel Wanyonyi leading the pack in a race
Emmanuel Wanyonyi leading the pack in a race. Source: Wikimedia licensed by Free Documentation License

Kenyan teenage sensation Emmanuel Wanyonyi won the men’s Rising Star Award in the event. He was the Diamond League champion, finishing with a personal best of 1:42.80 in the 800m. 

He also claimed victories in the Paris, Rabat, and Xiamen legs. Additionally, Wanyonyi was part of Kenya’s team that won the World Cross-Country mixed relay.  

Noah Lyles

spotcovery-2018 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
2018 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-2.0

American sprinter Noah Lyles received the World Athlete of the Year in men’s track events. At the World Championships in Budapest, Lyles won individual gold medals in the 100m and 200m events. He added a third with Team USA in the 4 by 100m event. 

He finished the 100m in a world lead time of 9.83. At the Diamond League in London, Lyles improved his time in the 200m, registering 19.47, lowering the time by 5 seconds. He holds the world-leading time in the event.

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Faith Kipyegon

spotcovery-Faith Kipyegon at the 2022 World Athletics Championships.
Faith Kipyegon at the 2022 World Athletics Championships. Source: Wikimedia licensed by Free Documentation License

After an outstanding year of breaking world records, Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon was named the World Athlete of the Year for track events in the women’s category.

Her impeccable streak began in Florence, where she broke the 1500m record, finishing the race at a time of 3.49.11. She broke Genzebe Dibaba’s previous record of 3.50.37 set in Monaco in 2015. 

She also broke Letesenbet Gidey’s world record in the 5000m, clocking 14.05.20 in Paris. Kipyegon no longer holds this record, as Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay broke it.

The Kenyan wasn’t done. In Monaco, she broke the mile record set by Sifa Hassan (4.12.33), running 4.07.64. Kipyegon won a gold medal in the 1500m at the World Championships in Budapest.

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Tigist Assefa

spotcovery-Tigist Assefa at the front.
Tigist Assefa at the front. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Ethiopian was named the World Athlete of the Year out of stadia events. In September, Assefa set a new world record in the women’s marathon in Berlin. She broke Sifa Hassan’s record of 2.13.14 by 2 minutes and 14 seconds, crossing the finishing line in 2.11.53

She also set the biggest winning margin of six minutes. Assefa seemed to be within the world record sights. In 2022, she finished this marathon at 2.15.37, the third fastest time in women’s marathon.  

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Faith Cherotich

spotcovery-Faith Cherotich (Ahead) at the 3000m Women’s heats
Faith Cherotich (Ahead) at the 3000m Women’s heats. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-2.0

Faith Cherotich won the female Rising Star Award at the World Athletics Awards event. The 19-year-old won the bronze medal at the 2021 World U20 Championship and a gold in the 2022 event. 

After the Diamond League finals, she ranked second in the U20 all-time list after finishing 8.59.65. She came in fourth at the U20 World Cross Country Championships.

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Kelvin Kiptum

spotcovery-Kelvin Kiptum at the 2023 TCS London Marathon Elite men's race.
Kelvin Kiptum at the 2023 TCS London Marathon Elite men’s race. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-4.0

Another athlete who was recognized during the World Athletics Awards is Kelvin Kiptum. He’s the World Athlete of the Year for out-of-stadia competitions. He’s the marathon world record holder after he broke Eliud Kipchoge’s record of 2.01.09 set in Berlin in 2022. Kiptum ran 2.00.35 at the Chicago Marathon and was the first man to run under 2.01.

The World Athletics Awards showed Kenya’s dominance in long-distance running. These athletes deserve their awards and their fans will expect more in the coming years, especially with the 2024 Olympics in sight. 

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