World Athletics Creates New Award Categories As Noah Lyles, Faith Kipyegon Win in Monaco

World Athletics Creates New Award Categories As Noah Lyles, Faith Kipyegon Win in Monaco

Martin Moses
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
  • World Athletics made an infamous decision to subdivide its major awards
  • Many Kenyans felt Faith Kipyegon was hard done by the new categories
  • In more positive news, Kipyegon has been honoured by Kenya's President

The 2023 World Athletics calendar came to a close in a rather dispiriting fashion with the end-year awards in Monaco on December 11.

As the world waited for the governing body to unveil a Male and Female athlete of the year, as has been the norm, the categories were instead divided into three for each gender.

Noah Lyles, Armand Duplantis, Kelvin Kiptum, Faith Kipyegon, Yulimar Rojas, Tigist Assefa
Armand Duplantis, Noah Lyles and Kelvin Kiptum pose with their trophies during the World Athletics Awards on December 11, 2023. Photo by Mustafa Yalcin.
Source: Getty Images

In short, we ended up having six athletes of the year. Yes, six.

World Athletes of the Year

Noah Lyles (men's track), Armand Duplantis (men's field), Kelvin Kiptum (men's out of stadia), Faith Kipyegon (women's track), Yulimar Rojas (women's field) and Tigist Assefa (women's out of stadia) were the recipients of the awards.

Immediately after the announcement, World Athletics President, Sebastian Coe explained the necessity of subdividing the awards to cater to the exemplary performances witnessed in 2023.

"The depth of talent and the outstanding performances in our sport this year more than justify the expansion of the World Athletics Awards to recognise the accomplishments by these six athletes across a range of disciplines," he said in a press release.

Faith Kipyegon's 2023 season

Be as it may, there was a general feeling that Kipyegon had been robbed of her chance to stand high and alone on the throne as the best track and field athlete for 2023.

Rojas might have retained her triple jump world title and Assefa might have shattered the marathon's world record, but Kipyegon was at the peak of her powers and simply unplayable.

The mother of one broke the 1,500m, 5,000m, and 1-mile world records all in the span of two months. She then headed to Budapest for the World Championships, where she completed the double. She rounded off her season by winning the Diamond League trophy in Oregon.

Reactions to Kipyegon's award

Japheth Mutinda alleged robbery by World Athletics for whittling down the award.

"World Athletics decided they can't stand a Kenyan woman being named Athlete of the Year, so they came up with multiple categories to kill the oomph. They robbed Vivian in 2011, and since they couldn't rob Kipyegon, they decided to share it"

Michelle Katami, on the other hand, understood the reasoning to honour the athletes but reiterated the need to have one superior award.

"I still can not wrap my head around what transpired in Monaco last night. Faith Kipyegon's achievements set her apart, summing it to a Track award is unjust. It is fine to subdivide and reward stand-out performances but retain the overall World Athlete of the Year Award."

Kenya's President honours Kipyegon

Back at home, President William Ruto conferred Kipyegon with the Elder of the Golden Heart (EGH) - the highest honour a civilian can receive.

"I have conferred our world-beating athlete the rank and status of Elder of the Golden Heart for illuminating the path of success. She has earned her place at the top."

The 29-year-old will be going for a third successive Olympic medal at the Paris Games next year.

What Kipyegon earned for gold medals

Sports Brief previously reported on what Kipyegon earned for her gold medals at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

She won two gold medals and will be entitled to $140,000. When converted to Kenyan shillings, she made over Ksh20 million (1USD=145Ksh).

Kipyegon will take home $40,000 after her dominant win in the Diamond League final as she crowned her season with an international prize.

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Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)
Faith Kipyegon