By Joe Aura
Celebrations erupted in Monaco as Kenya and Ethiopia emerged as the shining stars of the 2023 World Athletics Awards, securing victories in six out of the 12 categories, showcasing their unparalleled prowess on the global stage. This momentous event, held to commemorate the year’s outstanding athletes and their remarkable achievements, highlighted the sheer dominance of these East African nations in the realm of track and field.
The spotlight of the evening fell on Faith Kipyegon from Kenya, whose exceptional performance led her to clinch the prestigious World Athlete of the Year for Women’s Track Award. Kipyegon’s awe-inspiring feat included smashing the world record in the women’s 1500m, while her stellar performances at both the Tokyo Olympics and the World Championships secured her well-deserved gold medals.
Kelvin Kiptum, another illustrious athlete from Kenya, triumphed in the World Athlete of the Year for Men’s Out of Stadium Events Award, owing to his unparalleled victories in the prestigious Boston and New York marathons. His consistent excellence and unwavering determination rightfully earned him this esteemed accolade.
Adding to the glory, Ethiopia’s Tigist Assefa was honored with the World Athlete of the Year for Women’s Out of Stadium Events Award. Assefa’s astounding display of talent and sheer grit during the London Marathon saw her not only set a new course record but also achieve the second-fastest time in history, solidifying her position as a global icon in long-distance running.
Letesenbet Gidey, representing Ethiopia, was bestowed with the International Fair Play Award, a testament to her outstanding act of sportsmanship at the World Championships. Her selfless assistance to a fallen fellow competitor encapsulated the true spirit of sportsmanship and garnered immense respect and admiration from the athletic community.
The spotlight also illuminated rising talents, with Emmanuel Wanyonyi from Kenya recognized as the Rising Star of the Year. Wanyonyi’s electrifying debut in the 800m category, where he clinched the world junior title and triumphed in the Diamond League trophy, heralds a promising future in the world of athletics.
Faith Cherotich, yet another prodigious talent from Kenya, was named the Female Rising Star of the Year. Her extraordinary achievements in the 3000m steeplechase, breaking the world junior record and claiming the Olympic silver medal, underscored her exceptional abilities and tenacity at such a young age.
The awards ceremony was graced by the presence of World Athletics President Sebastian Coe, who lavished praise upon these African athletes for their exceptional achievements and the inspiration they provide to the world. “You have demonstrated the incredible power and grace of athletics, bringing immense pride to your continent,” he remarked.
Regarded as the pinnacle of recognition in the athletic world, the World Athletics Awards are determined by a distinguished panel of experts, media representatives, and devoted fans. This year marked the 40th anniversary of these prestigious awards, which were first inaugurated in 1983, commemorating excellence and sporting brilliance across the globe.