Being a Championship year, 2022 was indeed an extraordinary one for Track and Field as several landmarks were reached and records were broken. With the year drawn to a close, we take a look at some key moments, with a list of our best female athletes in the world, ranked 1-10.
Here is the second part of the two-piece story, featuring the athletes ranked 5-1.
- Kimberly García León
Kimberly García León’s rise to being World Champion wasn’t sudden, but rather a story of dedication and resilience. Born into a family of race walkers, she was already deep into the sport in her preteen years and it was no surprise that she was already the Peruvian National U-18 Champion over 5km at the young age of 12.
Three years on and she had the National U-20 title to her name as well before going on to represent Peru at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore where she finished 7th, also in the 5km walk.
Her first international success came at the 2013 Pan American Race Walking Cup where as a 19-year-old, she struck GOLD in the women’s 20km and then won the same event at the 2014 South American Race Walking Championships. She set her first South American Record a few months after at the IAAF Race Walking Cup in Taicang, the first of many to come.
At the next edition of the Race Walking Cup, she set another South American Record but could only manage a 12th place finish. It wasn’t any better at the Rio ’16 Olympics where she came 14th and for a while, she contemplated retiring due to lack of support, especially for someone who had been in the sport for a while.
After giving much thought to it, she decided not to and she was out competing in 2017 again, getting a 7th place finish in the women’s 20km at the World Championships in London. She broke the SA Record in the women’s 20km twice in 2019, winning Silver at the Pan American Games in Lima.
She qualified for the Tokyo ’20 Olympics, but was a Did Not Finish. However, her entrance into 2022 signalled something great was in waiting as she for the first time, got on the podium of the World Race Walking Championships in Oman.
At the Word Athletics Championships in Oregon, she went into an early lead in the women’s 20km and she never relinquished her lead, stunning with a very blazing 1:26:58 clocking. Successfully, she ended China’s 10-year-long stronghold on the event on the global stage but she wasn’t done. She doubled back a week after, storming to another GOLD in the women’s 35km in a South American Record of 2:39:16.
García León therefore became the first woman to win two race walking titles at one global championship, emulating the feat of race walking great Robert Korzeniowski who won two of such at the 2000 Olympics, and also the first Latin American to win two GOLD medals at the same World Athletics Championships.
- Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
Right before our eyes, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce went from being the Pocket Rocket to Mommy Rocket.The 36-year-old Jamaican’s first World Championships dates back to as far as 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 in history and indeed she brought colour and speed to the track.
- Yulimar Rojas
The women’s Triple Jump can as well be now called the Yulimar Rojas show, going by how she has completely made the event hers. Like she normally does, she opened up the year competing indoors but this time in the Long Jump, reaching a PB of 6.81m in a buildup towards the World Indoor Championships in Serbia.
What would happen next was however surprising. In her Triple Jump opener at the World Indoor Tour in Madrid, she broke the World Indoor Record with a massive 15.41m jump, bettering the previous record set by Tatyana Lebedeva in 2004 by 5cm!
It however didn’t end there. She was already going to make history by becoming the first woman to win three World Indoor Triple Jump titles, but that wasn’t how the show was going to end as she took it up a notch, dazzling with a World Record of 15.74m!
She shattered the World Indoor Record she set a few weeks before and set an outright World Record (WR), better than the outdoor record she set in winning GOLD at the Tokyo ’21 Olympic Games.
She barely competed outdoors, but when she showed up at the World Championships in Eugene, she showed out, with a jump of 15.47m and a tight clutch on another GOLD, her 6th global medal of that colour at the Championships.
She then competed at two more meets on the Diamond League circuit, winning easily before taking home her first Diamond League title in Zurich.
- Sydney McLaughlin
If the 400m hurdles were a country, Sydney McLaughlin could as well be the President by now. 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.
- Tobi Amusan
The name Tobi Amusan wasn’t a strange name to any Track and 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 100m Hurdles race, she clocked windy times of 12.58s and 12.57s respectively, before going on to register a Season’s Best (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 100m Hurdles. The heat which had been labelled the toughest, had Amusan, Keni Harrison the World Record (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 and 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 (MR) of 12.29s to defend her Diamond League title in Zurich