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Faith Kipyegon named World Track Athlete of the Year

Kipyegon is the first Kenyan woman to win the award since its inception in 1988

Faith Kipyegon Photo by: Kevin Morris

On Monday night at the 2023 World Athletics Awards in Monaco, Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon took top honours, capping off her nearly flawless season. The double world champion was named World Female Track Athlete of the Year, a title awarded to her by the public, her peers and the World Athletics Council.

Kipyegon made headlines by breaking three world records in 2023, in the 1,500m, mile and 5,000m events, in addition to clinching two world championship titles at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest. She successfully defended her world title in the 1,500m and won her first world championship over 5,000m, facing one of the deepest fields in the event’s history.

This historic achievement marks the first time a Kenyan woman has received the prestigious award since its inception in 1988. The previous winner was U.S. 400m hurdler Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone in 2022.

Faith Kipyegon Diribe welteji
Faith Kipyegon celebrates her 5,000m win at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest. Photo: Kevin Morris

Throughout 2023, the 29-year-old mother pushed the boundaries of distance running, accomplishing feats that fans of the sport considered nearly impossible. Kipyegon became the first woman to complete the 1,500m in under three minutes and 50 seconds (3:49:11) and achieved another milestone by also becoming the first woman to run a sub-4:10 mile, clocking in at 4:07.64 at Monaco Diamond League in July.

For the first time ever, World Athletics split the Athlete of the Year award into three disciplines: track, field and non-stadia.

Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela won the Women’s Field Athlete of the Year; Rojas won her fourth consecutive world championship title in the women’s triple jump and her third-straight Diamond League title. New women’s marathon world record holder Tigist Assefa of Ethiopia won the non-stadia award. Assefa shattered the women’s world marathon record at the 2023 Berlin Marathon, running an unbelievable 2:11:53 and breaking the previous record by nearly two and a half minutes.

World Athletics said in a press release that their decision to divide the award into three categories came from fans and council members when they commented that it was “incredibly hard” to limit the vote to just one athlete.

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