Feature17 Oct 2023

World Athlete of the Year 2023 – spotlight on the men’s nominees


Men's Athlete of the Year nominees

The leading athletes of 2023 will be crowned on 11 December at the World Athletics Awards 2023.

Following last week’s announcement of the 11 nominees for the Male World Athlete of the Year 2023, we take a closer look at their seasons.


Neeraj Chopra (IND)

The Olympic javelin champion became a world champion in 2023.

India’s Neeraj Chopra started his season with a win and ended it with one, too, as he claimed the Asian Games crown with a throw of 88.88m – the fourth best mark of his career and a throw that strengthened his place at second on the year’s world top list.

His season opener was the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Doha, which he won by throwing 88.67m – one of four competitions in which he surpassed 88 metres. He then triumphed at the Diamond League in Lausanne and carried that win streak to Budapest, where he became the first athlete from India to get gold in any discipline at the World Championships.

After placing second at the Diamond League meeting in Zurich and again at the series final in Eugene, Chopra was back on top in Hangzhou, where he retained his Asian Games title. His performance there meant he ended the season with three of the top five throws.


Ryan Crouser (USA)

Things didn’t all go to plan for Ryan Crouser in 2023 but proving his mettle, the shot put star still managed to further improve his world record and retain his world title.

During the indoor season he threw 23.38m in Pocatello, and while that mark could not be ratified as a centimetre improvement of his own outright world record, he didn’t have to wait long for another historic moment. At the USATF Los Angeles Grand Prix – his second competition of the outdoor season – Crouser threw 23.56m for a result that added 19cm to that ratified global mark.

He maintained a win streak up to the World Championships in Budapest where, despite competing with two blood clots in his leg, he managed to throw a championship record of 23.51m – just five centimetres shy of the world record he had set a few months earlier.

He closed his competitive year with a 22.91m throw for second place at the Diamond League Final in Eugene and with 11 of the 12 top throws of the season to his name. Five of those were beyond 23 metres.


Mondo Duplantis (SWE)

Another year, and another global title and world record for Sweden’s pole vault sensation Mondo Duplantis.

Last year’s Men’s World Athlete of the Year has now improved the world record seven times – taking it to 6.22m indoors in Clermont-Ferrand in February and then to 6.23m at the Diamond League Final in Eugene in September.

Duplantis attempted a record height on his season opener in Uppsala, eventually winning with 6.10m for his best-ever season debut. That set the tone as just a few weeks later he added a centimetre to the outright world record he set last year.

During an outdoor season in which he only lost once, Duplantis soared six metres or higher a total of 14 times. One of those performances came at the World Championships in Budapest, where he rebounded after finishing fourth at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco to retain his world crown with a 6.10m clearance.

After further wins in Zurich, Stockholm and Brussels, he ended the year on a remarkable high. After clearing 6.02m to retain the Diamond League title and achieve the 73rd six metre-plus clearance of his career, he had the bar raised to 6.23m and cleared it on his first attempt.


Soufiane El Bakkali (MAR)

Soufiane El Bakkali carried his impressive consistency through to 2023, remaining unbeaten in five steeplechase finals and improving his PB to 7:56.68.

After opening his season with a 3000m PB of 7:33.87 at the Diamond League meeting in Doha, the Moroccan 27-year-old took his lifetime best for the 3000m steeplechase from 7:58.15 to 7:56.68 at the Diamond League on home soil in Rabat.

When Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma broke the world record with a 7:52.11 run in Paris in June, El Bakkali wasn’t deterred, and he remained focused on retaining his world title in Budapest. After a win in Stockholm and another in Silesia, El Bakkali did exactly that – beating Girma to a global title again to add a second world crown to a CV that also includes Olympic gold from Tokyo.

He then rounded out his year with another win on the Diamond League circuit, clinching victory in Xiamen.


Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR)

For the second year running, Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen won world 5000m gold and 1500m silver, and he did so in a season that also featured a world record and a world best.

After an indoor campaign during which the 23-year-old achieved a European title double in the 1500m and 3000m in Istanbul, Ingebrigtsen achieved a world best in his second race of the outdoor season, clocking 7:54.10 for two miles at the Diamond League in Paris. He then won 1500m races in Oslo, Lausanne and Silesia, running 3:27.14 for the latter – a European record and a time that moved him to fourth on the world all-time list.

Feeling under par, Ingebrigtsen settled for second in the world 1500m final but rebounded to retain his 5000m title. In his next race, the Norwegian set the first outdoor world record of his career, taking the world 2000m mark to 4:43.13 in Brussels.

Not willing to settle for just one Diamond Trophy at the series final in Eugene, he ran 3:43.73 to win the mile and then 7:23.63 to win the 3000m the following day – both European records that put him third on the world all-time lists for each discipline.


Kelvin Kiptum (KEN)

When Kenya’s Kelvin Kiptum ran 2:01:53 on his marathon debut in Valencia towards the end of 2022, people took note. When he improved to 2:01:25 to win the TCS London Marathon in April, the question no longer seemed to be whether the 23-year-old could break the world record, but when.

The answer: at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on 8 October.

On that day, Kiptum became the first athlete to break 2:01 in a record-eligible marathon, clocking 2:00:35 to take 34 seconds off the world record that had been set by his compatriot Eliud Kipchoge in Berlin last year.

After passing half way in 1:00:48, Kiptum ran a blistering 5km split of 13:51 between 30km and 35km and was on sub-2:01 pace. He continued to speed up and so smashed the world record to claim his second major marathon win of the year.

Despite only having made his marathon debut 10 months ago, Kiptum now has three of the six fastest times in history to his name.


Pierce LePage (CAN)

Canada’s Pierce LePage had the competition of his life when it mattered the most, scoring 8909 points to win the world decathlon title in Budapest.

A world-leading result, that score also moved the 27-year-old up to sixth on the world all-time list.

Showing his consistency across the board, LePage placed in the top five in seven of the 10 events. He had already achieved 8228 points going into the 1500m, but his time of 4:39.88 secured him the title with a score that is the second-best winning mark for the decathlon at the World Championships behind Ashton Eaton's then-world record of 9045 in 2015.

Earlier in the season, LePage had won the Hypomeeting in Gotzis with 8700 – the third-best score of his career. Throughout the year, the Canadian achieved PBs in four individual events – 10.28 in the 100m, 13.77 in the 110m hurdles, 15.99m in the shot put and 63.09m in the javelin – as well as in the decathlon.


Noah Lyles (USA)

Not only did Noah Lyles retain his world 200m title in Budapest, but the US sprint star also added 100m and 4x100m gold into the mix.

The 26-year-old remained undefeated in his six 200m finals in 2023, during a competitive year that started with a 60m win and PB in Boston and ended with a runner-up finish in the 100m at the Diamond League Final in Eugene.

The 100m PB of 9.83 that he set to win the first of his three titles in Budapest made him the joint world leader in that discipline, while he led the 200m world top list with the 19.47 he clocked to win in London a month before claiming his third world 200m crown in 19.52.

Those were his top two 200m times in a season that saw him break 20 seconds in all bar one of his finals. He recorded three of the four fastest times of the year and added to his legend as one of the top sprinters of all time.  


Alvaro Martin (ESP)

Alvaro Martin became the first gold medallist at the World Championships in Budapest, claiming his first global title with a win in the 20km race walk. Just five days later, he doubled that haul by gaining gold in the 35km event.

The 29-year-old achieved the first part of a Spanish ‘double double’ in the Hungarian capital, as his teammate Maria Perez – nominated for the Women’s World Athlete of the Year honour – joined him in winning both titles.

Martin improved his PBs at both distances, taking his 20km mark to 1:17:32 and his 35km best to a national record of 2:24:30. His 20km performance would remain the best of the year, while his 35km result maintained his unbeaten season in the discipline, alongside his victories at the Spanish 35km Race Walking Championships and European Race Walking Team Championships.


Miltiadis Tentoglou (GRE)

Like Neeraj Chopra in the javelin, Miltiadis Tentoglou followed his Olympic triumph in Tokyo with a first world title win in Budapest and he did it in style. In a repeat of his gold medal-winning performance at the Olympics, the Greek 25-year-old produced the best leap of the competition in the final round to clinch the world crown, jumping 8.52m to complete a golden collection of long jump titles.

It took his tally of major titles to a total of eight: one Olympic gold, one world indoor title, one world outdoor triumph, two outdoor wins at the European Championships and three indoor. The latest of those European Indoor Championships victories was also claimed in 2023, with Tentoglou leaping 8.30m in Istanbul in March during a season in which he topped the world list with the 8.41m he soared in Lievin.

His 8.52m leap in Budapest, which saw him win by just two centimetres, is the third-best winning mark of Tentoglou’s career. His consistency meant he ended the year with only two defeats.


Karsten Warholm (NOR)

Karsten Warholm continued to make history in 2023, winning an unprecedented third world 400m hurdles title and doing so with his fastest performance of them all - 46.89.

The Norwegian had to settle for seventh place at the World Championships in Oregon last year after an early-season hamstring tear, but he made sure things were back on track for 2023.

An unbeaten indoor season culminated with the European indoor 400m title and then he made a statement by winning his outdoor season opener in Oslo in 46.52 – then the second-fastest time of his career behind the 45.94 world record he set to win Olympic gold in Tokyo.

By the end of the season, Warholm had further rewritten his list of all-time performances, also clocking a world-leading 46.51 in Monaco and 46.53 in Eugene to join his Tokyo and Oslo results in his career top four.

The 27-year-old now has four of the top seven performances in history.