2022 was indeed an extraordinary year for the sprints as several landmarks were reached and records were broken, including at least 3 World Records. As the year draws to a close, we take a look back at some of the key moments of 2022 with a list of our best sprinters in the world, ranked 1-10.
Here is the first part of the series. Let’s dive in!
10. Michael Norman
Following a stunning collegiate career, one that saw him run the fastest 400m time ever indoors and become the 5th fastest man ever outdoors, Michael Norman had big shoes to fill and was easily considered the next great over the one lap distance.
However, he had to wait 4 years before earning his first individual global GOLD in the 400m. He was the favourite for the Doha 2019 World Championships, but hampered by injuries, he only made it as far as the semifinals and at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics where he would have hoped to make amends, he managed as much as a 5th place finish.
In 2022 like most times, he was off to a flying start, going head to head to with Fred Kerley over 200m where he finished a very close 2nd, setting him up for the rest of the season. He went on to run 44.62s in his first 400m of the season, but in stunning fashion, he stormed to a massive Season’s Best (SB) of 43.60s at the Prefontaine Classic in May, the fastest time in the world and his fastest since setting a Personal Best (PB) of 43.45s in 2019.
In his next showing at the USATF Championships in Oregon, he was challenged by the duo of Champion Allison and Randolph Ross who were both coming off a great collegiate season, but managed to ward them off, going even faster as he extended his World Lead (WL) to 43.56s!
From then onwards, he didn’t race until the heats of the men’s 400m at the World Championships. Coming to Oregon, he was again under the pressure to deliver, having posted the two fastest times in the world prior to the games. He progressed through the rounds comfortably and up until the last 70m in the final, he was side-by-side with Kirani James but he found an extra gear, steering clear to strike GOLD in 44.29s, with his fists in the air and his face washed in a mix of delight and relief.
He then teamed up with Elija Godwin, Bryce Deadmon and Champion Allison to win another GOLD in the men’s 4x400m final with a World Leading 2:56.17.
9. Shaunae Miller-Uibo
Since 2016, Shaunae Miller-Uibo has been the most dominant figure in the women’s 400m, winning everything there was to be won at the highest strata of the sport. However, despite her prowess and agility in the event, one thing eluded her – a World Championship GOLD medal.
After making a switch from the 200m and making the 400m her forte, she went on to win Silver at the 2015 World Championships and would have thought that it would be up from there. However, things didn’t pan out as she would have thought at that level.
She won Gold at the 2016 Olympics by a hair’s breath, but was so dominant all through the 2017 season, making her highly favoured for the world title on her second try. When the gun went off, she started out quick and led the race through 350m mark, but in an amazing turn of events, she lost her footing and stumbled. Before she could regain balance and composure, the lactic had kicked in and two blue and a red uniform – Phyllis Francis, Allyson Felix & Salwa Eid Naser – glided past her, pushing her totally out of podium placement as she finished 4th.
In the same manner, she was the event’s preeminent in 2019, easily warding off the challenge posed by every of her competitors, including her arch-rival, the burgeoning Salwa Eid Naser.
At their standoff at the Worlds in Doha, Naser started out fast, and it was in doubt whether she would have enough left to hold off Miller-Uibo, but the young Bahraini never relinquished her lead, as Miller-Uibo had to settle for 2nd in 48.37s. Her time would be the fastest time ever not to win a GOLD in the women’s 400m at the World Championships.
At the next Olympics, she defended her title easily and moving on to 2022, there were questions as to whether she could clip the wings of disappointment at the World Championships. She progressed through the rounds easily, and was infact a runaway winner of the women’s 400m in Oregon.
By so doing, she became only the second woman to accomplish the 400m treble of winning the Olympics, World Indoor Championships and World Outdoor Championships and rounded off her season with a victory at the NACAC Championships.
8. Fred Kerley
The name Fred Kerley, as known to the entire track world, is synonymous to versatility.
Kerley, a “jack of all sprints,” opened up his 2022 campaign over 400m, clocking 44.47s at the GAA Developmental Meet in Grenada, what was then a World Lead (WL) before doubling back, well enough to win two 200m races in quick succession, including the Mt. SAC Relays where he clocked a World Lead (WL) of 19.80s!
He then stepped down to the 100m (where he had won Olympic Silver the preceding year), winning his first race of the year at the distance before he went head-to-head with Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala at the Kip Keino Classic, placing 2nd in 9.92s. By May, he had already broken the magical barriers of 10s, 20s and 45s.
At the USATF Championships in Oregon, Kerley who before 2021 was known as a quarter-miler, ran a blistering 9.76s in the men’s 100m semifinal, becoming equal 6th fastest man in history!
He then obliterated the field in the final, turning in a time of 9.77s to win his first US 100m title, and secured qualification for the men’s 200m at the Worlds, via a 3rd place finish behind Noah Lyles and Erriyon Knighton.
Kerley opened up his World Championship campaign in stunning fashion, uncorking a 9.79 in only the first round, the fastest heat time in World Championship history. He won his semifinal in a more relaxed manner, but in the final, he had to run up close with Marvin Bracy who got out nicely to an explosive start and led for the largest part of the race. However, Kerley who kept his composure all through the race, came through strongly in the last 30 metres, nicking GOLD in 9.86s and leading an American 1-2-3 finish.
In the 200m, he won his heat and was in position to take the semifinal as well, but strangely he came home in 6th, almost slowing to a walk across the finish. He sustained an injury to his quadriceps mid-race and took a precaution so as to not aggravate the injury, bringing his season to a halt.
7. Grant Holloway
If anyone at all had a dream year in 2022, it was definitely Grant Holloway. The American hurdler who has dominated the men’s short hurdles scene ever since he turned pro, won all the major titles up for grabs in the year.
Holloway who hasn’t lost a 60m hurdles race since he was 17, extended his winning streak in the 60m hurdles to an astonishing 56 races! He turned 25 in 2022.
Having already set a World Lead (WL) of 7.35s on the circuit, he won the US Indoor 60m hurdles title and competed at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade, where he stormed to a World Record (WR) of 7.29s, equalling his own record set in 2021 only in the semifinal. He went on to win GOLD in the final.
He then kicked off his outdoor campaign a month later in the flat sprints, running a 100m PB of 10.21s at the Tom Jones Memorial. He also ran 3rd and anchor legs in the men’s 4x100m and 4x400m respectively, splitting 43.4 in the latter at the same event. Moving back to his terrain, the men’s 110m hurdles, he competed at the New York Grand Prix where he ran a fast 13.03s SB, good enough for 2nd place while Devon Allen won that race in 12.84s!
Holloway also ran at the USATF Championships, winning his heat and semifinal races, but passed on running the final since he had a bye to compete at the World Championships as the defending champion in the event. Allen also went on to win the final.
At the World Championships in Oregon, Holloway won his preliminary races and was set for an exciting clash in the final. However in a dramatic turn of events, his mainstay competitors were eliminated first by injury and then for two false starts. When he went to the blocks the third time, he powered out and held his own nicely, striking GOLD in 13.03s!
He improved his SB to 12.99s at the Monaco Diamond League and went on to win the Diamond League final in Zurich.
6. Alison Dos Santos
2022 was the year that Alison Dos Santos became the face of the men’s 400m hurdles. He made a name for himself already by virtue of his exploits in 2021, when he won Bronze at the Olympic Games, when the event was at its deepest, in a massive National Record (NR) & South American Record (AR) of 46.72s, making him 3rd fastest man in history.
However, he kicked off his 2022 campaign with the 400m flat, running a huge PB of 44.54s, the second fastest time in history by a Brazilian. It was quick enough, that it gave him the index to compete in the event at the World Championships if he wanted to.
In his first 400m hurdles race of the season at the Drake Relays, he earned an easy win in 48.41s and picked up four Diamond League victories, including the Stockholm Diamond League where he clocked a blistering 46.80s!
He was undoubtedly the favourite for the men’s 400m hurdles title in Oregon, and he lived up to expectations, storming to GOLD in yet another NR and South AR of 46.29s! He defeated Rai Benjamin and WR holder Karsten Warholm and by so doing, broke the Championship Record and posted the fastest time ever run in the event on US soil.
Not only did he beat the two fastest men the event has ever seen, he became the first Brazilian man to win a GOLD medal at the World Athletics Championships and the second Brazilian (man or woman) ever after Fabiana Murer in 2009.
He ended the season on a high as he went on to win the Diamond League final in Zurich. He broke 47 seconds three times and had six of the fastest ten times in the event in 2022, going absolutely undefeated in all races!