If anyone wants to overtake Faith Kipyegon in the race for the 2023 Athlete of the Year crown, they’d better hurry.
The little Kenyan arrived in Budapest for the recently concluded World Athletics Championships with three world records set earlier in the season and left with two individual gold medals. It’s a combo that makes Kipyegon the undisputed queen of the sport.
Maybe action in the remainder of the season could catapult someone else into the ascendancy. After all, the Diamond League has restarted, post-Budapest, and big moments could lay ahead. The League concludes with the Brussels leg of the series on September 8 and the final in Eugene, Oregon, on September 16 and 17. By then, athletes may well be able to refocus and recover after their full-speed efforts in Budapest and extract top performances from themselves.
However, it’s going to be very difficult for anyone to outdo Kipyegon’s 2023 portfolio.
She broke the 3.50-minute barrier in the 1500 metres with her world record – 3 minutes 49.11 seconds in Florence, Italy, early in June. A week later, she ran with the wavelights in Paris, France, to a 5000m time our schoolboys would be proud of – 14.05.20. She returned on July 21 with a mile world record of four minutes 07.64 seconds.
In case you thought she could only run for records, she took charge early in the World Championships 1500m final and ran the field off its feet, winning her third world title in 3:54.87 seconds. In the 5000m, with Dutch virtuoso Sifan Hassan bidding for gold, Kipyegon sprinted clear to complete an unprecedented double.
Sportsmen treasure two accomplishments: setting records and winning championships. Those who do both stand in an elite class. Kipyegon does both.
Truth be told, she is probably an all-time great. When you stack her world titles with her two Olympic titles, she is nothing short of the greatest 1500m runner of all time.
No one else has more than two world 1500m crowns.
The little twinkle-toed Kenyan needs only break the Olympic gold medal tie she shares with former Soviet Tatyana Kazankina, the 1976 and 1980 winner, to remove any remaining doubt.
That’s in the future. For now, she is clearly number one in 2023.