Few days ago, we started a series on the Top 10 World Female Athletes in 2019 where we revealed our Nos. 10-6 athletes.

Here is the concluding part of the story that features our Top 5 Female Athletes in the World for the 2019 season. We look forward to your comments in the comment section.

5. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica)

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce on her way to winning a fourth 100m World Title in Doha.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is quite a shade of every good thing you want to describe in contemporary Track and Field. After winning three World 100m titles and adding a 100m Bronze medal to her Olympic haul that started way back in 2008 even with an injured foot, she took some time off to have a baby -little Zyon.

She returned to the game in 2018, broke 11s in her first season back, but being a long-term champion as it were, it was clear that the 2019 season would be one for some sizing. She started her season by clocking 11.20s to win the women’s 100m at the Grenada Invitational. The following month, she competed in her first 200m in a while at the Nike Seniors link-up and also topped that in 23.07s.

She sharpened up her running at the Jamaican All-Comers meet where she broke 11s with a time of 10.97s that earned her another win, and then improved to 10.88s at the Racers Grand Prix and was clearly on a path to redemption at the Jamaican National Championships in Kingston.

With well controlled preliminary races – 11.08s in the heats and 10.93s in the semifinals, she faced Olympic Champion, Elaine Thompson, who was in a lane inside hers.
As it turned out, the ‘Pocket Rocket’ had not lost her touch as she exploded off the blocks, leading by half a metre on the entire field. Thompson began to close in but SAFP was a fighter indeed, hanging on while they both flashed past the finish in an identical 10.73s, with Thompson awarded the win by some thousandths of a second.

Again, in the 200m where she rarely competed, she clocked 22.22s to finish 2nd behind Thompson who completed the national 100/200m double. Running a much more conservative race at her next meet in Palo Alto, she finished 8th in 11.39s and then clocked a massive 10.74s to show that her race in Kingston was no fluke.

She also won the 100m at the Meeting Citta Di Padova, then broke 10.8s at the Muller Anniversary Games for the third time with a 10.78s clocking. Having won so many meets, she wasn’t so sharp out of the blocks at the Diamond League final in Brussels but she held her form well to finish in 2nd place, timed 10.95s behind Dina Asher-Smith.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce celebrates winning the World 100m Title with her baby, Zyon.

With her hair characteristically spelling the colours of the Jamaican flag in Doha, Fraser-Pryce clocked the fastest time ever recorded in a women’s 100m heat at the World Championships – a rather stunning 10.80s that she made look so simple.

She clocked 10.81s with ease in the semifinals, making her the fastest qualifier for the final. Sporting a dyed hair that made her stand out in the final of the women’s 100m in Doha, she sped off and breezed past the finish in 10.71s, a new World Lead (WL) that came with some gracious achievements.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce at the age of 32, became the oldest woman to win a World or Olympic 100m title. It was her fourth World title and ninth overall when she led the Jamaican 4x100m quartet to GOLD in Doha!

4. Salwa Eid Naser (Bahrain)

Salwa Eid-Naser ran a breathtaking 400m final to win the world title for the first time in her career.

Salwa Eid Naser’s success story sounds surreal, seeing she won her first senior World Championships medal as an U-20 athlete – Silver in London, beating the likes of Allyson Felix and Shaunae Miller-Uibo to such a position.

She does know her tactics well and on a simple note, opened up at the Arab Championships in Cairo, winning the 400m title in 52.72s before improving her Season’s Best (SB) to 51.34s, a time with which she won the Asian Championships in Doha. At the Shanghai Diamond League (DL), she completed the course in another SB of 50.65s and then kept on improving with a 50.26s clocking in Rome.

In Rabat, she clocked 50.13s to keep her cards clean and against Aminatou Seyni of Niger at the Lausanne DL, Track fans were treated to quite a scene. Naser streaked out to the lead, but the latter was tracking very closely. She was almost matching the Bahraini, stride for stride but Naser never quite gives up in the face of opposition. She emerged winner in 49.17s, taking the win by 0.02s.

She won the DL final in a modest 50.24s and was off to the World Athletics Championships in Doha. Meanwhile, she competed over the shorter sprints in 2019, setting a 200m Personal Best (PB) of 22.51s at the Prefontaine Classic while she ran an impressive 11.24s over the 100m.

In Doha, Salwa ran two outstanding legs in the heats and final of the mixed 4x400m relay for Bahrain, once bringing them from 8th to 4th on her leg of the race as the team was eventually rewarded with a Bronze medal in a National Record (NR) of 3:11.82.

After those defining moments for the Bahraini, doubts began to hover as to whether she could hold her own against the very strong Miller-Uibo who had competed in the 200m for most of the season before the World Championships and still held the World Lead (WL) from her season opener of 49.05s.

Salwa ran a controlled 50.74s to win her heat and then clocked 49.79s as Shaunae Miller-Uibo qualified fastest from the semifinals into the final. A win was not feasible then, not in the minds of so many fans, analysts, enthusiasts and lovers of the sport.

Salwa captured her maiden 400m World Title, took the World by a storm and surprised even herself.

It was a very even race as the gun went off but at the backstraight, Naser had made up the stagger on USA’s Wadeline Jonathas while Miller-Uibo herself was doing well on the inside of the defending World Champion, Phyllis Francis.

Deploying different tactics, the backstraight was the weapon Salwa wielded so strongly, going all out on a pace considered too fast for the distance, but it ensured she had the lead at that point over Miller-Uibo whom she had always played second fiddle to.

After the very fast opening 300m, an untypical catch-me-if-you-can race unravelled in the women’s quartermile as she kept pushing and didn’t relinquish the lead till she crossed the finish in style. She had beaten Miller-Uibo on the biggest stage but that wasn’t what caught people’s attention. The figures read 48.14s!

Stunned, Naser covered her mouth in awe of what she had achieved. Even Miller-Uibo was taken aback as she had broken her PB of 48.97s by 0.60s but it wasn’t to be the winning time; it was all for the small figure of Salwa Eid Naser with the flag of Bahrain draped around her shoulders. Naser rounded off the season with a win at the CISM Military World Games in Wuhan where she clocked 50.15s for an easy win.

3. Brigid Kosgei (Kenya)

Brigid Kosgei wins the 2019 Chicago Marathon. Photo Credit: @BBCSports

Brigid Kosgei only started the marathon in 2015 after she returned to Track, being a mother of twins. She raised eyebrows when she clocked a Personal Best (PB) of 2:18:35 in the marathon in 2018, so she became a big bright shot in road running. She won the Aramco Houston Half Marathon in January with a time of 1:05:50, and improved her PB by 22s at the Bahrain Night Half Marathon.

She ran some very impressive shorter distances, including a 5000m PB of 15:13 and a 10,000m Season’s Best (SB) of 30:22, so when surpassed her compatriot, Joyciline Jepkosgei’s World Half Marathon Record with a beautiful 1:04:28 clocking at the 2019 Great North Run, it was a surprise to a few people. She was almost an unchallenged winner as she finished over three seconds ahead of the 2nd-placed Magdalyne Masai (1:07:36).

Before her improvement on the Half Marathon Record, she had demonstrated that she was in searing form when she clocked a huge new PB of 2:18:20 at the Virgin Money London Marathon where she completed the second half of her race in a blazing 66:42, and so she was a favourite when it came to the Chicago Marathon in the United States.

Her compatriot Eliud Kipchoge had headlined the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna when he became the first human to touch the sub 2-hour terrain in the men’s marathon with the catchphrase ‘no human is limited’ just a day before that race, so she knew what she had to do.

Brigid Kosgei after setting a new World Marathon Record in Chicago. Photo Credit: BBCSports

When spectators were holding up signs that had Kipchoge’s catchphrase in them, Kosgei slid through the first half of 26.2 miles in 66:59 and was almost setting a pace for herself alone. With an amazing trajectory, the Kenyan completed the course, smashing Paula Radcliffe’s World Record (WR) by a whole 81s as she returned a time of 2:14:04. Kosgei sure has a bright future ahead of her!

2. Sifan Hassan (Netherlands)

Sifan Hassan celebrates after winning the World 1500m title in Doha

This Dutchwoman is probably the most versatile distance runner in contemporary times. Her range is full of depth and quite incredible in the real sense of the word. After two Bronze medals at the previous editions of the World Championships, Hassan entered the 2019 season in startling form.

In mid-February, she set a 5km World Record (WR) in Monaco with a time of 14:44 and finished 5th in her first Diamond League race in Shanghai where she clocked 4:01.91 over the 1500m, a time she improved on at the IAAF World Challenge in Nanjing with 4:00.53.

At the FBK Games in Hengelo, she competed in the women’s 5000m where she clocked 14:38.54 but soon clocked a blazing National Record (NR) of 3:55.93 in the women’s 1500m at the Rabat Diamond League (DL), before setting a PB and European Record (ER) of 8:18.49 in the women’s 3000m at the Prefontaine Classic.

She entered the mile run at the Monaco DL, was the last off the start line and began to ease slowly through the field. Paced by Olha Lyakhova, Hassan built up nicely for herself a strong lead that saw her pass 1500m in 3:55 and eventually shattered Svetlana Masterkova’s 23-year old WR with a new time of 4:12.33, while she led a couple of other women into the all-time list for the event.

The Dutch athlete went on to win the 1500m/5000m double in the Diamond League final, returning times of 3:57.08 and 14:26.26 respectively.

Hassan completed an unprecedented 1500/10000m double at the World Athletics Championships in Qatar.

Surprisingly, she opted to do the 1500m/10,000m at the World Championships, something that had never been won before. Hassan had only ever tried the 10,000m once in her career, and that was at the Payton Jordan Invitational in Palo Alto, but she completed the race in the most domineering manner, striking over a minute off her previous PB to beat a very strong Letensebet Gidey of Ethiopia as she finished the race in 30:17.62 to strike GOLD!

On odds as favourite for GOLD in the women’s 1500m, she etched her name in the history books as she became the first woman to win 1500m and 10000m World Titles at the same Championships. She didn’t sit at the back for too long as she led the pack through 800m in 2:05.

It would easily pass as one of the greatest women’s 1500m races, seeing that she was elevated to 6th on the all-time list with a PB, National Record (NR) and Championship Record (CR) of 3:51.95.

It has only happened once, that a sub 4-minute clocking would not be enough to make the podium, and that was far back in 1987, but in 2019, as many as nine women swept under the 4-mins mark with only three of them making the podium.

1. Dalilah Muhammad (USA)

Muhammad set two World Records in the women’s 400mH within one season.

Dalilah Muhammad first emerged on the global scene as a 17-year old that won the World Youth Championships in 2007, competed for the USC Trojans as a collegian while she picked up a medal at the 2013 World Championships amidst tough competition.

Her 400m speed in 2019 must have been key to her massive improvement as she bettered her Personal Best (PB) over the flat sprint by a second each time she stepped on the track to compete. She first equalled her previous PB with a 52.63s clocking at the Stanford Invitational where she also returned a time of 23.35s over the 200m.

She earned another win at the Mt. SAC Relays in Torrance where she won the 400m in 51.62s, a time she soon improved at the ORLEN Memorial Janusza Kusocinskiego in Chorzow, Poland, finishing in 50.60s.

Her 400m Hurdles campaign started at the IAAF Diamond League (DL) in Doha, winning in 53.61s where she was to later make history. She clocked 53.88s at the Seiko Golden Prix and also produced 53.67s at the Rome DL.

She got her first defeat at the Oslo DL where she returned a time of 54.35s – her last 400m Hurdles race before the USATF Championships as she ran her 400m PB some days after this particular race.

After easing through qualification with a time of 54.22s, she competed in the final at the Drake Stadium in wet, cold and windy conditions, but she never grew weak as she produced a sensational 52.20s clocking that smashed the World Record (WR), something no one foresaw. It was a 0.14s improvement on the former WR held by Yuliya Pechonkina.

The reigning Olympic Champion finished 3rd in the DL Final as part of her build-up to the World Championships. With her major counterpart, Sydney McLaughlin going through as the fastest qualifier into the final with a time of 53.81s while she won her own semifinal in 53.91s, it was almost a game of toss in the mind of lovers of the sport.

Dalilah helped the US women’s 4x400m quartet to the World Title in Doha.

Muhammad did well to establish a sizeable lead on McLaughlin who had finished 2nd behind her at the USATF Champs, from the start of the final race in Doha, showing tints of experience as she cleared every hurdle.

McLaughlin wasn’t to give up the World Championships title without a fight for as soon as they passed the last curve and then the last barrier, she only had a lead of about two strides on her compatriot.

From those years of experience, she dug deep and held off McLaughlin who was gaining in on her fast. They crossed the finish just 0.07s apart but that wasn’t quite all: Muhammad had produced another WR with a time of 52.16s!

She also teamed up with McLaughlin, Wadeline Jonathas and Phyllis Francis in the women’s 4x400m final, running the 3rd leg on the team that won GOLD with a time of 3:18.92. It’s no surprise she emerged the World Female Athlete of the Year!

 

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Oluwadare Popoola
Athletics is a special shade of life for me, and my confidence has received a boost since I started out covering the sport from the stands of my home, and now as a Junior Sportswriter with Making of Champions - an opportunity to get better at what I do.

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