National Athletics Centre in Budapest
Choosing just ten was a challenge, not because there were too few memorable moments, but quite the opposite! The world's top athletes created numerous unforgettable experiences in the Hungarian capital. Among these, the American mixed relay team set a new world record, and seven world championship records were shattered.
1. 7 out of the 9 evenings of the World Championships saw sold-out stadium
Few would have expected such a high level of interest in the World Athletics Championships in Hungary. However, it turned out that no Hungarian wanted to miss this sporting event, the biggest in the country’s history. Almost every evening, except for Monday and Tuesday, the National Athletics Centre was packed, and the event even drew full crowds in the mornings during the opening weekend. Remarkably, on the penultimate day of the World Championships, over 10,000 people gathered in the morning to cheer on Anita Márton, the world indoor champion shot putter, in one of the final major events of her career.
The World Championships in Budapest became the most attended sporting event in Hungary's history, with a total of 404,088 tickets sold, representing 95% of the available tickets. Sixty percent of the attendees were from Hungary, while the remaining 40% came from abroad. Fans from 120 countries flocked to the World Championships, with some even participating in the Heroes' Run on the final day, which attracted 6,000 participants despite the heat.
Noah Lyles at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23
2. Noah Lyles follows in Usain Bolt's footsteps with a triple
The standout star of the World Championships was Noah Lyles, who not only claimed victory in the 100m and 200m events but also secured the top spot as a member of the US 4x100 relay team. The 26-year-old sprinter achieved a feat that Usain Bolt last accomplished in 2015, although the Jamaican legend had previously accomplished a triple in 2009 and 2013. This suggests there's still room for improvement.
3. The duel between Sha'Carri Richardson and Shericka Jackson
Anticipation ran high for the clash of women's sprinters in Budapest, and they certainly didn't disappoint. This World Championships marked Sha'Carri Richardson's breakthrough into the top level of the sport. She clinched her first major career title by winning the women's 100m from lane 9. The silver medal went to Shericka Jackson, who outpaced Richardson in the 200m with her second-fastest time ever, completing the race in 21.41 seconds.
The rivalry between these two athletes continued in the women's 4x100m relay final. Richardson was the lead-off runner, receiving the baton from Gabby Thomas. Despite Shericka's valiant effort to catch up at the finish line, Richardson, the Texan sprinter, proved uncatchable. As a result, Richardson returned home with two gold medals and one bronze, while her rival secured one gold and two silver medals.
Sha'Carri Richardson vs. Shericka Jackson (© Stephen Pond/Getty Images for World Athletics)
4. Legendary last jumps and throws
Only the greatest athletes, operating at the highest level, can produce a throw or jump significant enough to turn the tide of a competition on their sixth attempt, especially after five subpar attempts. On the summer evenings at the National Athletics Centre, four superstars achieved just that.
Greece's Miltiadis Tentoglou secured victory in the long jump with a final leap of 8.52 meters. Daniel Stahl unleashed the discus to a remarkable distance of 71.46 meters in the closing moments, not only surpassing his competitors but also claiming the world title and setting a new competition record, previously held by Kristjan Ceh. Meanwhile, Yulimar Rojas, the world record holder in the triple jump, faced a challenging day, nearly faltering after the third round. Nevertheless, she persevered and managed a jump of 15.08 meters, securing sixth place and edging out Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk by eight centimeters. This victory marked Rojas's fourth consecutive World Championship title. In the women's javelin final, Haruka Kitaguchi also struggled initially but made a remarkable comeback to win the gold medal with a throw of 66.73 meters.
Additionally, Ryan Crouser deserves mention for his performance on the opening night, where he achieved a new world record by throwing 23.51 meters. This result was just five centimeters shy of the world record for the shot put, a record he also holds.
5. Gianmarco Tamberi wins hearts once again
This World Championships truly belonged to Gianmarco Tamberi. The Italian crowd favorite arrived in Budapest, accompanied by a large contingent of Italian fans who cheered him on during Tuesday night's events. The charismatic showman didn't require much encouragement, and the entire National Athletics Centre rallied behind him during the men's high jump final.
Tamberi's performance of 2.36 meters completed his gold medal collection. Following his successes at the Olympics, the World Indoor Championships, and the European Outdoor and Indoor Championships, he now stood atop the podium at the World Outdoor Championships.
Gianmarco Tamberi in Budapest
6. Spanish dominance in race walking
For the first time in the 40-year history of the World Athletics Championships, athletes from the same nation have claimed victory in all the race walking events. María Pérez secured gold in both the women's 20km and 35km walks, setting a world record in the longer distance. Meanwhile, Álvaro Martín achieved a double victory in the men's race walking events.
7. Faith Kipyegon sets new all-time records
There's little doubt about who will be named the Female Athlete of the Year in 2023. Faith Kipyegon shattered world records in three different events earlier this summer. In addition to excelling in her specialty, the 1500 meters, this Kenyan legend also triumphed in the 1 mile and 5000 meters. Arriving in Budapest with aspirations of a double victory, she certainly did not disappoint.
Kipyegon clinched the 1500m title with a substantial lead, solidifying her reign over this distance, having finished at least second in all six World Championships since 2015 (earning 3 gold and 2 silver medals). Moreover, she ventured into the 5000 meters for the first time and triumphed over Sifan Hassan, widely regarded as the strongest contender in this event. Kipyegon became the first woman in the history of the World Championships to achieve the remarkable feat of winning both the 1500m and 5000m events.
Faith Kipyegon celebrates her 1500m win in Budapest (© Getty Images)
8. The dramatic World Championships of Femke Bol and Sifan Hassan
The WCH Budapest 23 marked a dramatic start for the Netherlands as two of their biggest stars faced unexpected challenges in the final moments of their races. Sifan Hassan was in pursuit of three Ethiopian athletes in the 10,000 meters when she stumbled and fell. Similarly, Femke Bol, leading the Dutch 4x400 mixed relay team against the world record-holding Americans, suffered a fall.
What's remarkable is the resilience and class demonstrated by both athletes. Despite their setbacks, Hassan managed to secure the bronze medal in the 1500 meters and claimed silver in the 5000 meters. As expected, Bol triumphed in the 400m hurdles and then made an incredible comeback in the Dutch 4x400 relay, leading her team to victory in the final 15-20 meters, surpassing Jamaica and Great Britain.
9. Nina Kennedy and Katie Moon share the gold medal
A historic moment unfolded at the World Championships as, for the first time in the event's history, a gold medal was shared. This unique moment in sporting history showcased the spirit of the sport. Nina Kennedy and Katie Moon, two exceptional pole vaulters, stood hand in hand atop the podium in the Medal Plaza, a new addition to the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23. This moment resembled the one shared by Gianmarco Tamberi and Mutaz Essa Barshim in the high jump at the Tokyo Olympics, solidifying Budapest's place in athletics history.
Nina Kennedy and Katie Moon at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 (© Getty Images)
10. Tens of thousands of spectators along one of the world's most beautiful marathon courses
Many skeptics believed that marathons would be as uninteresting as stadium races. Their reasoning was simple: "Who wakes up at 7 am on Saturday and Sunday mornings?" They couldn't have been more wrong. Along one of the most stunning marathon courses globally, there were queues of spectators.
The atmosphere in Heroes' Square was electrifying during the women's marathon on Saturday, thanks to a dance and music show by Ethiopian supporters. Nóra Szabó, who led the first lap and finished a remarkable 24th, also contributed to the excitement. On Sunday, even more early risers gathered along the route, which included Andrássy Avenue, Basilica, Chain Bridge, and Várkert Bazaar. Victor Kiplangat secured victory in 2:08:53, setting a new record for the fastest marathon ever run in Hungary, completing the classic distance in just 2 hours and 10 minutes.
+1. The Hungarian team ignites the nation
Athletics is gaining popularity in Hungary, and with an event of this magnitude, it became an enormous celebration. The Hungarian team's outstanding performance created a fantastic atmosphere. All athletes received the encouragement they needed, performing in front of 35,000 spectators at the National Athletics Centre. The record-breaking 63-member team made the most of this opportunity.
Bence Halász at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23
Bence Halász's bronze medal in the hammer throw provided unforgettable memories, as did the remarkable performance of our relay teams: four out of five of our relay teams set new Hungarian records. Attila Molnár, one of the standout athletes of the 2023 season, improved his national record in the 4x400 mixed relay and the men's 4x400 relay, achieving a new Hungarian record in the 400m individual event (44.84 seconds). Bianka Kéri and Janka Molnár also contributed to the record-breaking women's 4x400 relay.
Notable performances also came from our heptathletes on the first two days, with Xénia Krizsán finishing in 4th place and Rita Nemes, setting a new individual record, placing in the top 10. Similarly, Hanga Klekner, Mátyás Németh, Máté Helebrandt, Árpád Bánóczy, Zoltán Wahl, Fanni Rapai, and Anna Vindics-Tóth Lili achieved their personal best results.
Written by: Zoltán Szendrei
Translated by: Viktória Xénia Nagy