Feature20 Nov 2022

Spotlight on finalists: Yulimar Rojas and Noah Lyles


Yulimar Rojas and Noah Lyles (© Getty Images)

As the World Athletics Awards 2022 draws near, we shine a spotlight on the finalists for the World Athlete of the Year awards.

The World Athletes of the Year will be announced on World Athletics’ social media platforms in early December, as part of the World Athletics Awards 2022.

Yulimar Rojas

Based purely on her margins of victory and her winning streak, Yulimar Rojas is arguably the most dominant athlete in any event right now.

And given her impact on the world all-time lists and her ever-growing list of accolades, she can lay claim to being the greatest ever exponent in the women’s triple jump.

Even before 2022 began, the 27-year-old had already achieved all there is to win in the sport – Olympic gold, world titles indoors and out, as well as her world records indoors and outdoors. But the Venezuelan, clearly as motivated as ever, continued to improve in 2022 as she added two more global titles to her already impressive collection.

Her season opener hinted at what the year would have in store. She won at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Madrid with 15.41m, the second-best indoor jump in history and just two centimetres shy of her own world indoor record.

But the standout moment of her year came 18 days later at the World Indoor Championships Belgrade 22, just her second competition of 2022, where she won her third successive title in an outright world record of 15.74m, adding seven centimetres to the world record she set when winning Olympic gold in Tokyo last year.

Despite some minor injury concerns delaying the start to her outdoor season, Rojas’s undefeated streak continued when she resumed competition in June.

She then went on to win her third consecutive outdoor world title in Oregon with a world-leading 15.47m.

Having achieved her major goals for the year, Rojas recorded three more victories at the end of the season, all of them beyond 15 metres. She won in Monaco with 15.01m, then dominated in Lausanne with 15.31m before wrapping up her season with victory at the Wanda Diamond League final (15.28m).

Noah Lyles

From May until September, Noah Lyles simply did not slow down over 200m.

The US sprinter was undefeated in his specialist event this year, breaking 20 seconds in all 12 of his races over the distance, including heats and finals.

His season opener of 19.86 in Clermont was followed 12 days later with a marginally wind-aided 19.72 victory at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Doha. One month later, he clocked 19.61 to win at the Continental Tour Gold meeting in New York.

He was pushed by rising sprint star Erriyon Knighton at the US Championships, but Lyles still emerged victorious, winning in 19.67 to the teenager’s 19.69. His next focus was defending his title at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.

Lyles did not disappoint. And despite it being the World Championships final, Lyles produced one of his most dominant runs of the year to lead a US sweep of the medals, winning by almost half a second in 19.31 to break Michael Johnson’s long-standing US record and move to third on the world all-time list. Two days later, Lyles formed part of USA’s silver medal-winning 4x100m team.

He maintained his momentum after the World Championships, winning the 200m in Monaco (19.46) and Lausanne (19.56) before clocking a season’s best of 9.95 to win the 100m in Berlin.

His season drew to a close at the Wanda Diamond League Final, where he ran a meeting record of 19.52 to win the series title – his fourth career Diamond Trophy in the 200m and fifth overall.

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