Top 10 US Female Athlete of the Year 2023 (5-1)
Last time out, we began our countdown of the Top female athletes in the United States in 2023, taking a look at how they’ve performed in some of the top events such as the Diamond League and World Championships.
Here, we take a look at our Top 5 female athletes of the year in the US.
5. Shamier Little
In the absence of the World record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, Shamier Little has taken up the mantle of the best sprint-hurdler in the States, and she took it to the world stage this year. The Chicago native might not have been in the class of the likes of her countrywoman and Dutch sensation Femke Bol, but her consistency on the circuit is one that many up-and-coming sprinters should be envious of.
Little opened her outdoor season with the 400m in April, running 50s in both Florida and Los Angeles. She even ran the Diamond League opener over the one-lap in Doha as she placed second. In her signature event, which is the 400m Hurdles, the 2015 World Championship Silver medallist ran a staggering 53.95s to win the Diamond League in Rabat.
Shamier Little, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, July 6-10, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
With McLaughlin-Levrone running the 400m flat, it paved the way for Little to dominate the 400mH at the US Championships as she won at a canter with 53.34s. It was a confidence booster heading into this year’s World Championships in Budapest.
In Budapest, after placing second in her heats and winning her semis, Little faced the untouchable Bol in the final inside the National Athletics Center. The three-time national Champion went shoulder to shoulder with Bol and was even level with the Dutch sprinter with less than 100m to go. However, Bol pulled away on the home straight to claim the win, with Little taking Silver in 52.80.
Still in the prime age of 28, Little will set her sights on the Paris Olympics, hoping to add another Silver medal to her kitty.
4. Chase Ealey
How times have changed for US Shot Putter, Chase Ealey. The 29-year-old from Springfield, Illinois, was only just two years ago a shadow of herself after she failed to make the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Two years later, Ealey can now boast of two world titles. It’s not as simple as it’s written, but for sheer resilience from her path and a bit of technique twitching, she now is the undisputed queen of the Shot Put.
Coming off a breakout 2022 season in which she won both the Diamond League title and the world championship, Ealey has kept on chasing. Perhaps, it is her continued quest to break the seemingly unbreakable world record of 22.63m that keeps spurring her on.
Chase Ealey sets AR in shot put of 20.76m, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun
Ealey has already added her name to the pantheons of great Shot Putters after she claimed a historic Gold by becoming the first US women’s shot putter to land World Championships Gold. The native of Los Alamos, New Mexico started her season on a strong foot in February as she won a third U.S. indoor title at Albuquerque.
At the world championship in Budapest, Ealey reaffirmed her dominance in her discipline. In the final, Ealey took the lead with her opening effort, 20.35m, and never relinquished.
Her remarkable achievement elevated her to an exclusive group of athletes: multiple world title winners in her event. Notable figures in the audience included Dame Valerie Adams from New Zealand, while Gong Lijiao, one of the twelve competitors, was also present. Additionally, among the celebrated athletes were another Chinese thrower, Huang Zhihong, and Germany’s Astrid Kumbernuss.
The best was still to come for Ealey. At the Diamond League final in Oregon, had a world-leading shot put of 20.61m in the second round. In the third, she set an American record of 20.76m, breaking the mark of 20.63m set by Michelle Carter in winning Gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Her distance would have won every Olympic Gold medal since 1996 and ranks No. 5 in the world this century.
3. Valerie Allman
Taking our number three spot on the countdown is another Discus Thrower. Valerie Allman continues to show why she is among the very best in the world at the event. After finishing third at the 2022 World Championships on home soil, the 28- 28-year-old made it a mission to claim her very first world title.
Allman had a flawless season, one that saw her win all the events she competed in before the world championships in August, except for the Diamond League in Oslo in which she lost to Sandra Perkovic. It paved the way for a three-way battle in Budapest between both throwers and Feng Bin of China.
Valerie Allman, USATF Distance Classic
track & field meet
May 26, 2023, Los Angeles, USA, photo by Kevin Morris
Before arriving in Budapest, Allman had demonstrated exceptional form by being the sole woman to surpass the 70-meter mark this season, achieving a season’s best of 70.25m in April during the San Diego event. Her outstanding performance mirrored the type of form that led her to break the area record the previous year, accomplishing a throw of 71.46m.
Consistency marked her season as she consistently exceeded the 65-meter mark in multiple competitions, securing eight victories out of ten events, including an impressive win at the US Trials with a throw of 67.66m.
In the qualifying round, she led the field with a notable 67.14m, underlining her preparedness to improve upon her previous achievement of clinching the bronze medal last year in Oregon. At that event, Feng secured the Gold with a lifetime best throw of 69.12m, while the revered Perkovic claimed the silver medal.
In what was a very feisty contest, Allman lost the Gold on the last throw as her compatriot, Laulauga Tausaga had a fifth-round monster throw of 69.49m, to move past Allman by 26cm. She ended her season with a Diamond League win in the final in Oregon.
2. Katie Moon
At the beginning of the year, US Pole Vaulter Katie Moon said that she’s motivated to chase records: Sandi Morris’ outdoor American record (5.00), Jenn Suhr’s overall American record (5.03, indoors), and Isinabyeva’s world record (5.06). The confidence stemmed from the fact that she was the defending Olympic and world champion heading into the 2023 season.
This year, Moon became the third woman to win multiple world pole vault titles, joining the first two Olympic gold medalists — American Stacy Dragila and Russian Yelena Isinabyeva. However, it was the manner of the second win this year that endeared her to people around the world.
Olympic and WC gold medalist Katie Moon shares her gold with Nina Kennedy after a long pv battle, photo by Kevin Morris
In Budapest, Moon had an unsuccessful last Pole vault attempt during the world championships, resulting in a tie for the top spot as both of them had identical records after clearing 4.90m. Assuming her co-leader Nina Kennedy wouldn’t fancy a shared victory, Moon anticipated a tiebreaking jump off to determine the sole gold medalist.
Similarly, Kennedy sensed Moon’s reluctance toward sharing the title and wasn’t inclined to settle for a joint win either. Both athletes deliberated on the situation, recognizing that the decision rested with them. Meeting face-to-face, they attempted to discern each other’s thoughts. Remarkably, they shared a similar sentiment: the idea of having two gold medalists felt more appropriate.
Subsequently, Moon and Australian contender, Kennedy, previously securing a third-place finish as her best performance, scripted history as the first co-gold medalists in any event at the World Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Moon ended her season on Home soil as he won the Diamond League final in Oregon.
1. Sha’Carri Richardson
The showstopper of track and field at the moment is Sha’Carri Richardson and she rightfully takes the number one spot in our ranking of the Top US Female Athlete of the Year. The 23-year-old is arguably the most devastating sprinter operating today as her stock rose to unimaginable heights, adding various laurels to her kitty.
It’s not strange to see Richardson achieve all she has done this year. After all, this is an athlete who has been re-writing the record books since she was a teen, including setting the fastest collegiate 100m mark in history at age 19 with a time of 10.75s. This was the year that Richardson announced herself to the world – not as a contender but arguably as the number one female sprinter on the planet today.
Sha’Carri Richardson, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, July 6-10, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
In 2023 Richardson became a different prospect. She has re-invented herself on the track in ways some thought unthinkable. Of the eight fastest 100m times of 2023, Richardson owns five, with the earliest of those coming back in May when she ran 10.76 with the outdoor season still in its early stages.
In the past, the American sprinter struggled to keep a consistent performance throughout the season. However, in 2023, Richardson performed exceptionally well at the most critical moments.
During the World Championships, her time of 10.65 seconds was outstanding, showcasing her abilities when it counted the most. Coming from the outside lane, Richardson stole a match on both Shericka Jackson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce as she stormed to her first world title. The time makes her the joint fifth-fastest 100m runner of all time and the third American, behind Florence Griffith-Joyner.
Looking closely at her performance in 2023, most of Richardson’s top five times were achieved between July and August. Additionally, eight out of her top 10 times were recorded in the month before or during the World Athletics Championships.
Richardson is without any shadow of a doubt, an athlete on an upward trajectory – and with Paris 2024 just over six months away, she’s surely a true threat to anyone with aspirations to become Olympic 100m champion.