Tobi Amusan and Mondo Duplantis (© Getty Images)
As the World Athletics Awards 2022 draws near, we shine a spotlight on the finalists for the World Athlete of the Year awards.
The World Athletes of the Year will be announced on World Athletics’ social media platforms in early December, as part of the World Athletics Awards 2022.
Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan had been Africa’s leading sprint hurdler for quite some time, winning gold at the past two African Games and at the 2018 African Championships. But in 2022, after finishing fourth at the past two global events, the 25-year-old finally struck gold and established herself as the world No.1 in the 100m hurdles.
Not only did Amusan end her season as the world leader and world champion. Thanks to her stunning world record run of 12.12 in the semifinals at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, she is now the fastest woman in history for the 100m hurdles.
Her season started, as it often does, with some races in the US, where she is based for much of the year. The early signs were promising, as she sped to PBs of 11.14 for 100m and 22.66 for 200m. Her first race in her specialist distance was a wind-assisted 12.58 clocking – her fastest ever season debut.
Amusan never shied away from lining up against the world’s best sprint hurdlers and regularly raced against the likes of Jasmine Camacho-Quinn and Kendra Harrison, the Olympic gold and silver medallists respectively. Once the Wanda Diamond League series got under way in mid-May, Amusan didn’t finish outside of the top two in any of her races.
From that point onwards, Amusan won nine of her 14 races in what became a record year for depth in the event, featuring five of the 10 fastest sprint hurdlers in history.
Amusan’s first big victory of 2022 came at the African Championships, where she successfully defended her title in a wind-assisted 12.57. She matched that mark just five days later, this time with legal wind, when winning in Turku.
Later that week, Amusan lowered her own African record to 12.41 when winning at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Paris. It stood as her PB for little more than a month, until she got to the World Championships.
Her first-round heat victory of 12.40 – faster than the gold-medal-winning times at all but four editions of the World Championships – made Amusan’s intentions clear. Even so, few could have predicted what was to come in the semifinals the next day.
Looking controlled and sharp throughout, Amusan executed a near-perfect race in the semifinals and crossed the line in 12.12, an 0.08 improvement on the world record. Such was the shock of her performance – as well as some of the PBs set by other athletes in the race – some onlookers wondered whether there had been a timing malfunction in the race. But any doubts were soon put to bed in the final roughly an hour later when Amusan sped to victory in a wind-assisted 12.06 (2.5m/s).
Two weeks after her first global triumph, Amusan successfully defended her Commonwealth title in a Games record of 12.30. She capped her season with victory in the Wanda Diamond League final in a meeting record of 12.29.
The majority of international pole vaulters can only ever dream about clearing six metres. For a select few, it will become a reality once or twice during their careers.
For Mondo Duplantis, it is almost a weekly occurrence.
Just when you think the Swedish pole vaulter could not be more dominant, he has a season like 2022, during which he set three world records, won two global titles, won 18 of his 19 competitions, and vaulted six metres or higher 22 times.
Duplantis, despite only just turning 23, now has more six-metre clearances than any other pole vaulter in history.
His record-breaking 2022 campaign began with an undefeated indoor season, during which he improved with each competition. He produced winning vaults of 6.02m, 6.03m, 6.04m and 6.05m before setting a world record of 6.19m in Belgrade. He returned to the Serbian capital two weeks later for the World Athletics Indoor Championships, where he struck gold with 6.20m, another improvement on his own world record.
He was then victorious on the Wanda Diamond League circuit, winning in Doha, Eugene, Oslo and Stockholm – the latter with an outdoor best of 6.16m, the highest ever outdoor vault in history. It was the perfect warm-up for the World Championships three weeks later.
As the last athlete competing on the final day of competition at the World Championships in Oregon, all eyes were on Duplantis. He didn’t disappoint, soaring over 6.21m on his second attempt at that height and – remarkably – with room to spare.
Less than a month later, he retained his European title with a championship record of 6.06m in a competition where he registered no misses.
He wrapped up his season with victories at the Wanda Diamond League meetings in Lausanne and Zurich. The rare loss he suffered in Brussels in between those meetings made no dent on what was otherwise an incredible 2022 campaign.