2022 was indeed an extraordinary year for the sprints, with several landmarks reached and records broken, and as the year draws to a close, we look back at some of the key moments of 2022, with a list of our Top 10 sprinters in the world. Here is Part 1 if you missed it.
We now feature the second part of the series, highlighting Nos. 5 – 1. Let’s dive in!
5. Shericka Jackson
Shericka Jackson had quite the long season, seeing as she started off 2022 competing indoors, something she had never done before. This was reasonably so, being that she is normally based and trains in Jamaica, and also because the Jamaican track season starts outdoors in March.
However, she trained in Arkansas early this year and in just her first year running the 60m, she set a train of Personal Bests (PB), even going on to make the final of the event at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade. She ended the indoor season with a massive PB of 7.04s, the 5th fastest time ever run by a Jamaican woman.
Moving outdoors, she ran her first 100m race at the JAAA/SDF Jubilee Series in Kingston, winning in 11 seconds flat while she made her first appearance at the Diamond League about a week later, placing 2nd in Doha with 22.07s.
At the Jamaican Championships, Jackson was without doubt the Athlete of the Games as she swept the women’s 100m & 200m. She dropped a huge Season’s Best (SB) of 10.77s to win the women’s 100m final ahead of Olympic Champion Elaine Thompson-Herah and then doubled with a stunning Personal Best (PB) of 21.55s to win the 200m title!
If there were any doubts that Jackson had arrived, she cast the aspersions aside at the World Championships in Oregon, setting PBs in both her events yet again. In the women’s 100m final, she started out fast and stayed with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, but the latter managed to stay clear of her younger compatriot, Jackson, who was rewarded with a PB of 10.73s.
In the 200m, she ran 21.67s in only her semifinal race, almost breaking the Championship Record set in 2015. She went even further in the final, smashing her PB with a blistering 21.45s clocking, a massive Jamaican National Record (NR) and the 2nd fastest time ever run by a woman in history over the distance! It was her first individual GOLD medal at the Worlds after earning a clutch of Bronze over the years.
Jackson was so good that she ran another 100m PB at the Monaco Diamond League, hot on the heels of Fraser-Pryce less than a month later in 10.71s. She won the NACAC women’s 100m title and capped off her season with a flourish, winning her first Diamond League title with a 21.80s clocking in the women’s 200m.
4. Noah Lyles
“Man on a mission!”
Those were one of the few words used to describe Noah Lyles when he started off 2022, repeatedly dropping 6.5s indoors, some rarified air over 60m and indeed that was what it turned out to be.
He started off his outdoor campaign with a modest 19.86s and improved over two races to an SB of 19.61s. When teenager, Erriyon Knighton opened up over 200m with a World Leading 19.49s, there were thoughts as to whether anyone could live with him.
In the men’s 200m final at the USATF Championships when Lyles and Knighton met for the first time in 2022, Knighton started out blazing fast and was leading by at least 3 metres coming off the curve, but Lyles dug deep, hit his top end speed and ate up the gap in the final 70 metres. He nicked the win, just over the finish line in 19.67s to 19.69s for Knighton.
At the World Championships, he progressed through the rounds easily, even winning his semifinal in 19.62s. Lined up in lane 6 for the final race, Lyles who had been known to be a slow starter, usually depending on his top end speed to win races, bolted out the blocks. 50 metres into the race, he had caught Joseph Fahnbulleh on his outside and was a metre up on Kenny Bednarek who was also a metre up on Knighton.
Coming off the curve, he turned on his top end speed jets and kept running away from the rest of the field to win in an astonishing 19.31s!
He had broken the American Record held by Michael Johnson which stood for 26 years, and became the third fastest man ever in the event. Lyles won another World Championship medal as he was also part of the US men’s 4x100m team that picked up a Silver in Oregon.
Away from the World Championships, he kept racking up wins in the event, including his third Diamond League trophy in Zurich and improved his best 100m time of the season to 9.95s at the ISTAF Berlin. In 2022, he was arguably the best male sprinter, going absolutely undefeated in the 200m.
3. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s first World Championships was in 2007, running as a member of the Jamaican women’s 4x100m squad that won a Silver. After her victory at the 2008 Olympics, she earned the name Pocket Rocket and over the years, we have seen her go from the Pocket Rocket to Mommy Rocket.
To start off 2022, she dropped 10.67s in quick succession in her first two 100m races at the Kip Keino Classic and the Paris Diamond League. At the Jamaican Senior Championships, she was entered for the 100m and 200m, but decided to do just the heats of the 100m as she had a bye as defending champion to the Worlds while she ran the 200m.
Still, in the 100m heats, she posted 10.70s – a record for the fastest heat time in history. In the 200m, she booked herself a spot on the team with a third place finish as she clocked an SB of 22.14s behind Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah.
Before the World Championships in Oregon, she already had 11 medals at the biennial event alone, so if she came into the games as perhaps one of the greatest female sprinters, she further solidified her position.
Sporting a green and gold wig from her set, Fraser-Pryce who had given the fans of the sport enough to talk about, powered to a record 5th 100m World title! No person (man or woman) has ever won more than 3 titles in the 100m alone. She led a Jamaican sweep and broke the Championship Record (CR) of 10.70s set by Marion Jones in 1999.
Her GOLD in Oregon, came 14 years after she won her first global title, so she became the oldest ever World Champion in a track event. She won two other Silver medals, first in the 200m where she proved doubters wrong that she was primarily a 100m runner, posting a time of 21.81s, and another, courtesy of running the third leg on the Jamaican women’s 4x100m team.
After the Worlds, her dominance of the event continued. She clocked a new WL of 10.66s at the Kamila Skolimowska Memorial in Poland and then ran 10.67s two days after in Hungary. At the Monaco Diamond League, she improved the WL again to 10.62s, dropping three 10.6s runs in a space of five days!
Her only loss all season was to Shericka Jackson in Brussels, but she found her footing again at the Diamond League final, storming to victory in 10.65s. In 2022 alone, she broke 10.7s seven times, more than any other person has ever done.
2. Sydney McLaughlin
When it comes to the 400m hurdles, we’ve come to understand it’s Sydney McLaughlin ‘s world and we’re just living in it. Before 2022, McLaughlin had set two senior World Records (WR), the last of which was at the Tokyo Olympics.
She opened up her 2022 season with a win in the women’s 100m hurdles, clocking 12.75s at the Penn Relays. About a month afterwards, she ran her first 400m hurdles, posting a brilliant 51.61s at the Music City Track Carnival.
She was so dominant that she would go on to win the women’s 400m hurdles at the USATF Championships in June with a time of 51.41s, breaking her own WR by five hundredths of a second.
Almost a shoo-in for GOLD at the World Championships in Eugene, McLaughlin who was always a little more conservative in the early part of her race, rose quickly over the barriers when the gun went off, so that when she came off the final turn, she had a sizeable lead, one that would extend to about 30 metres as she crossed the line in a World Record of 50.68s!
She sent shock waves round the stadium as fans and enthusiasts of the sport stood in awe. Not only did she break the WR, she absolutely obliterated it, beating the field by 1.59s – a field that included the second and third fastest women ever, Dalilah Muhammad and Femke Bol.
Successfully, she had turned the two-woman show she had with Muhammad who held the WR before her, to a one-woman show. She was almost a second faster than the second fastest woman ever on the all-time list and would have qualified for the women’s 400m final with her 400mH time.
She added another GOLD to her collection, anchoring the US women’s 4x400m team with a 47.9 anchor leg and ended her season with a win at the Gyulai Istvan Memorial in Hungary, running 51.68s.
1. Tobi Amusan
The name Tobi Amusan wasn’t a strange name to any Track & Field fan across the globe before 2022. She was without doubt, the biggest hurdling figure in the whole of Africa, raking up national, continental and international medals in the women’s 100m hurdles.
However, one thing always eluded her at the biggest stage – a global medal to highlight her career. Having copped 4th place at the Doha 2019 World Championships, she was in great form for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics but ended up 4th again, so she was tagged the “almost girl” at every championships.
Taking a different approach to her season by running the flats, she kicked off 2022 with PBs over 100m and 200m, running 11.14s and 22.66s. Those times were fast enough to qualify her for the World Championships in both events if she wanted to.
In her first 100mH race, she clocked windy times of 12.58s and 12.57s respectively, before going on to register an SB of 12.61s at the USATF Golden Games. She clocked 12.44s in a very windy race at the Doha Diamond League and then improved her SB to 12.58s at the Prefontaine Classic.
June 2022, she won GOLD in the women’s 100m hurdles at the African Championships in Mauritius and won another GOLD in the women’s 4x100m, running the anchor leg. She then broke the African Record (AR) she set in winning the 2021 Diamond League title by 0.01s, running 12.41s at the Paris Diamond League.
She came back to Nigeria later in June for the National Athletics Championships and continued her record-breaking spree, this time around, setting a new Championship Record of 12.54s to retain her title at the National Championships in Benin. Also, she helped the women’s 4x100m team secure qualification for the World Championships.
At the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Amusan opened up her campaign with a blazing 12.40s in the heats of the women’s 100m hurdles and even said after the race that she didn’t know she was moving that fast. It was an outright AR, bettering her own record from Paris.
What would happen next sent ripples down the spines of the track world. At the start of the afternoon session on Day 9 of the Worlds, with the crowd still strolling in and the sun high up in the sky, the gun went off for the first semifinal of the women’s 100mH. The heat which had been labelled the toughest, had Amusan, Keni Harrison the WR holder, Danielle Williams and Cindy Sember.
Amusan, technically perfect and pristine, sailed over the barriers and then almost slowed to a jog across the finish to a time of 12.12s! It was a sight to behold. With her hands raised, she walked back to confirm that the time was wind-legal, and with confirmation, she bursted into screams of ecstasy and delight. She had broken the WR in only the semifinal and with the former WR holder in the field.
One might have wondered if she could reproduce that kind of performance in the final and that’s exactly what she did, going even faster with a marginally windy 12.06s. She became Nigeria’s first ever World Champion & World Record holder in Athletics, but it didn’t stop there.
A fortnight after her unprecedented victory in Oregon, Amusan stormed to GOLD again at the Commonwealth Games, defending her title from 2018 and also breaking the CR in the process with a time of 12.30s on a cold and chilly morning in Birmingham. It was without doubt that she was in the form of her life.
She capped off a brilliant year, running a Meet Record of 12.29s to defend her Diamond League title in Zurich.