Introducing the Nominees for 2023 LetsRun Athlete of the Year

World Athletics could not name just one Athlete of the Year in 2023, but we will

On Monday, World Athletics bizarrely announced that it was splitting its most prestigious award in three. Rather than announcing one World Athlete of the Year for each sex – as it had in each of the previous 35 years – World Athletics instead chose to break the award into three and crown a World Athlete of the Year in three different disciplines: track, field, and out of stadia.

This came as a surprise to everyone, including the athletes themselves, who were invited to a fancy awards ceremony in Monaco and did not realize there would be separate awards until the winners were announced. Noah Lyles – who explained to LetsRun in August how badly he wanted to win the award after missing out in 2022 – was not exactly thrilled when he found out that he had been named 2023 World Athlete of the Year – Men’s Track.

“That word ‘track’ – that threw me, and I’m pretty sure a lot of other people off,” Lyles said after the ceremony in video captured by tandfnewsuk. “…Give me a few weeks and then I’ll be able to actually break down what I think of what happened today. Because on one hand, I agree with the idea. I just wish we knew that this was what was going to happen instead of having it happen after the five finalists were already chosen and that groups were going to be made…We were all led to believe we were fighting for the same trophy.”

No wonder Lyles was shocked. This was the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy Trust tallying votes, inviting the finalists to New York, and then announcing on the night that instead of handing out one Heisman, there would be separate awards for the best quarterback, best running back, and best wide receiver.

World Athletics said it gave out three awards per sex because “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.”

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Sorry, that’s a cop-out.  Track & field has always had “various disciplines” and “vast differences in skill sets.” Before this year, it had never prevented them from handing out the award to one and and one woman for each of the previous 35 years. That’s what made the award special. Now it’s been watered down to become almost meaningless.

So is stepping up. If World Athletics won’t hand out one award this year, we will: the Athlete of the Year.

Below, we’ll list our four finalists for each award – the three winners named by WA plus one other deserving candidate. Next week, we’ll name our winners – one man and one woman. Those winners will be determined by the LRC braintrust of Robert Johnson, Weldon Johnson, and Jonathan Gault, though we’ll also reveal who LetsRun readers would have picked.


Men’s finalists

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Noah Lyles, USA, 100/200m

100/200/4x100m world champion
Season’s bests: 9.83 (100), 19.47 (200)

The case for Lyles

-First man to pull of 100/200/4×100 triple at a global champs since Bolt in ‘16
-First man to win two individual golds at a global champs since Bolt/Farah in ‘16
-Totally dominant in 200 (6/6 wins, world leader, 3 of 4 fastest times in the world)

The case against Lyles

-Only won 3 of his 7 100m races (2nd at Diamond League final)
-Lost to a high schooler (who was eventually suspended for a banned substance) in the 100
-Only 3rd in the 100 at USAs
-Did not break any world or national records in 2023 (or even come close)

Mondo Duplantis, Sweden, pole vault

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Pole vault world champion
Season’s best: 6.23m (world record)

The case for Duplantis

-Set two world records (6.22m indoors on February 25, 6.23m outdoors at the Diamond League final in Eugene on September 17)
-Won 16/17 competitions
-Cleared 6.00m in 13 of 17 competitions
-Had 5 highest vaults of 2023 and 16 of the top 17

The case against Duplantis

-Lost once (only cleared 5.72m in Monaco on July 21, which left him tied for 4th; Chris Nilsen won by clearing 5.92m)

Kelvin Kiptum, Kenya, marathon

Kevin Morris photo

London/Chicago Marathon champion
Season’s best: 2:00:35 (world record)

The case for Kiptum

-Dominated both of his marathons in 2023, starting with a course record in London (2:01:25, the #2 time in history at the time, now #3) then running a world record in Chicago(2:00:35)
-After a 61:40 opening half, ran a 59:45 second half in London – the fastest second half split ever. His 2:58 margin of victory – which was the largest in race history – all came over the final 12k.
-After a 60:48 opening half, ran a 59:47 second half in Chicago – the second-fastest second half split ever. His 3:27 margin of victory was the largest in Chicago since 1979 and the largest in the professional era.

Case against Kiptum

-Only raced twice

Ryan Crouser, USA, shot put 

Shot put world champion
Season’s best: 23.56m (world record)

Kevin Morris photo

The case for Crouser

-Broke his own world record by throwing 23.56m at LA Grand Prix on May 27
-His series at LA Grand Prix was the best ever: 23.23 (#6 throw all-time), 23.31 (#4 all-time), 22.94, 23.56 (#1), 22.80, 22.86
-23.51 at Worlds (#2 throw all-time) despite competing with blood clots
-Crouser had as many legal throws below 22m (5) as beyond 23m (5)
-Won 12/13 competitions
-Threw 22m+ in 11/12 competitions
-Had the 7 best throws of 2023 and 16 of the top 17
-Invented new technique and used it to accomplish 2 longest throws ever

The case against Crouser
-His lone defeat of the season came at one of the biggest meets — the Diamond League final (he threw 22.91m, 2nd to Joe Kovacs’ 22.93)

Who is your men’s AOY?

Who should be 2023 men's athlete of the year?

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Women’s finalists


Faith Kipyegon, Kenya, 1500/5000m

1500/5000 world champion
Season’s bests: 3:49.11 1500 (world record), 4:07.64 mile (world record), 14:05.20 (world record at the time; now #2 all-time)

The case for Kipyegon

-Broke world records in the 1500, mile, and 5000
-Became first woman in history to win 1500 and 5000 at the same global championship
-Won all eight of her track races. Also won one cross country race.

The case against Kipyegon

-She lost her final race of the year, taking bronze at the world road mile champs on October 1 while sick

Yulimar Rojas, Venezuela, triple jump

Triple jump world champion
Season’s best: 15.35m

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The case for Rojas

-Won all 7 of her triple jump competitions in 2023
-Had 6 longest jumps of 2023
-Won World Championship in dramatic fashion on her final attempt

The case against Rojas

-Did not break a world record or come particularly close
-Her victory at Worlds was less than convincing

Tigist Assefa, Ethiopia, marathon

Assefa celebrates her 2:11:53

Berlin Marathon champion
Season’s best: 2:11:53 (world record)

The case for Assefa

-Ran 2:11:53 in Berlin to break marathon world record by 2:11 – the largest single-race improvement in 40 years
-Won Berlin Marathon by 6:56
-Is 1:51 faster than any other woman in history

The case against Assefa

-Only ran one race in 2023

Sifan Hassan, Netherlands, 1500/5000/10,000/marathon

London/Chicago Marathon champion
Season’s bests: 3:55.48 (1500), 14:13.42 (5000), 29:37.80 (10,000), 2:13:44 marathon (#2 all-time)

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The case for Hassan

-Won London Marathon against the strongest field of the year in her marathon debut after spotting the leaders 28 seconds ( after repeatedly stopping due to a quad injury) despite the fact her final month of training came during Ramadan
-Bronze in 1500 at Worlds and silver in 5000
-Ran #2 time in women’s marathon history (2:13:44) in Chicago six weeks after tripling at Worlds on the track
-First woman ever to medal in 1500 at Worlds and win a major marathon in the same year

The case against Hassan

-She was not the best in any of her individual events in 2023
-Did not break any world records

Who is your women’s AOY?

Who should be 2023 women's athlete of the year?

Results are hidden until the poll is closed.

Your vote has been counted. Thank you!

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World Athletics won’t name an AOY but we will – Let’s here your 2023 LetsRun Award nominations .

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