Big six for World Athletics - Image: WORLD ATHLETICS

For the first time in history, it's not been two, but six athletes who have been awarded by World Athletics: Tigist Assefa, Mondo Duplantis, Kelvin Kiptum, Faith Kipyegon, Noah Lyles, and Yulimar Rojas were announced as World Athletes of the Year for 2023 during the ceremony in the Principality of Monaco.

Given the abundance of records and outstanding performances by various athletes, the unprecedented decision was made to award more than one athlete as the best of the year, something controversial at first glance. While they are recognized on an equal footing as elite athletes, not all are equal, and it could tend to level down in the future.

The best is the best, it does not allow sharing. According to the dictionary, the best is "Superior to another thing." If being the best requires being superior, it cannot be given to two or more people but to the superior among them. In short, the best athlete should always be a unique, individual award and not shared among several, at least from my humble opinion beyond the good intentions of World Athletics.

Beyond this small observation, the fact is that this year 2023 will go down in history as the year in which honors and awards were adapted to be given to 6 athletes who had an excellent year. Obviously, the 23 world records and performances included in a jury led to changing the voting process due to the difficulties that came with choosing just one.

"The depth of talent and 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," said World Athletics President Sebastian Coe.

"Our World Athletes of the Year alone have achieved seven world records between them in 2023, as well as a host of world titles and major wins, so it is only fitting that they be recognized as the athletes of the year in their respective fields. I congratulate our award winners and all of the athletes nominated for these honors," concluded the British double Olympic medalist in Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984, as well as having achieved multiple records in his successful athletic career.

As a result, the World Athlete of the Year awards for 2023 have been divided into three event categories: track, field, and out of stadia:

Women’s track: Faith Kipyegon, KEN, 1500m/mile/5000m

Women’s field: Yulimar Rojas, VEN, triple jump

Women’s out of stadia: Tigist Assefa, ETH, marathon

Men’s track: Noah Lyles, USA, 100m/200m

Men’s field: Mondo Duplantis, SWE, pole vault

Men’s out of stadia: Kelvin Kiptum, KEN, marathon

Other awards were also presented. The Rising Star award was given in the traditional manner, with separate awards for women and men, going to Kenyans Faith Cherotich (3000m steeplechase) and Emmanuel Wanyonyi (800 meters), respectively. 

In addition to these awards, the Fair Play Award went to Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey (10,000 meters); Abbott World Marathon Majors received the WA President's Award; Australia excelled among WA member entities, and the Photo of the Year award was claimed by Italian Mattia Ozbot.