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Yearender: Top 10 world athletes of 2023

Xinhua| Updated: December 29, 2023 L M S

As the sporting year draws to a close, here is Xinhua News Agency's selection of the world's top 10 athletes in 2023:

1. Aitana Bonmati (Spain, football)

Bonmati played a pivotal role in Spain's historic victory at the FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and received the Golden Ball award. She also helped Barcelona win the UEFA Women's Champions League for a second time. In October, she was awarded the Ballon d'Or Feminin for her outstanding performances this year.

2. Faith Kipyegon (Kenya, athletics)

29-year-old Kipyegon set world records in 1,500m, 5,000m and one mile in the year 2023. The two-time Olympic champion also won two gold medals at the Budapest worlds, storming to her third world title in the women's 1,500m.

3. Kaylee McKeown (Australia, swimming)

The Australian backstroke specialist excelled among the women at the Fukuoka World Championships, winning golds in the 50m, 100m, and 200m backstroke events. The 22-year-old also set new world records in the 50m and 100m at the World Cup in Budapest, becoming the first female swimmer to simultaneously hold the world record in all distances in backstroke. She was named as the Best Female Swimmer of the Year 2023 by World Aquatics.

4. Kelvin Kiptum (Kenya, athletics)

Kiptum became the first man to run a marathon in under 2:01 hours in October, as he took the Chicago Marathon title in 2:00:35, breaking the previous record of 2:01:09 set by his compatriot Eliud Kipchoge in Berlin in 2022. The rising Kenyan also won the London Marathon in April and was named World Athletes of the Year for 2023 by World Athletics.

5. Max Verstappen (Netherlands, Formula One)

Verstappen won a record 19 of 22 Grand Prix in the 2023 season, finishing with a historic 575 points for his third consecutive World Championship title that sees him cement his status as one of F1's all-time greats.

6. Mikaela Shiffrin (United States, skiing)

Alpine skiing legend Shiffrin concluded her FIS World Cup 2022-23 season with 88 titles in total, breaking the all-time world record of 86 wins set by Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark. She also set another new world record for the most women's World Cup giant slalom wins with 21, and became the first female skier to finish with 138 World Cup podiums in FIS history.

7. Nikola Jokic (Serbia, basketball)

Jokic led the Denver Nuggets to their first-ever NBA title during the 2022-2023 season while earning himself the NBA Finals MVP award. Despite failing to win the regular season MVP for the third consecutive season, Jokic's averages of 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists per game still showcased his skills.

8. Novak Djokovic (Serbia, tennis)

Djokovic claimed his 24th Grand Slam title by winning his fourth US Open in 2023, thus surpassing Serena Williams' 23 to become the player with the most major singles championships in the Open era. Having also won the Australian Open and the French Open this year, Djokovic became the first man to win three Grand Slams singles titles in a season four times. The Serbian also won a record-breaking seventh ATP Finals title in the year-end tournament.

9. Qin Haiyang (China, swimming)

Qin broke the world record in the 200m breaststroke and became the first swimmer to sweep 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke titles at a single World Championships in Fukuoka. He was named the Best Male Swimmer of the Year 2023 by World Aquatics. The 24-year-old also claimed the men's MVP award at the Hangzhou Asian Games for his five gold medals.

10. Simone Biles (United States, gymnastics)

After overcoming mental health challenges occurring during the Tokyo Olympics, Biles made a triumphant return in 2023 by winning her sixth all-around title at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. With her 34th medal at the Olympics and World Championships, the 26-year-old has surpassed Belarusian legend Vitaly Scherbo to become the new record holder with the most medals.

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