Double world champion and world bronze medalist Sha’Carri Richardson has been named the 2023 Jackie Joyner-Kersee Female Athlete of the Year, while triple world champion Noah Lyles will be honored as the Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row. Coach Dennis Mitchell has been named the 2023 USATF Nike Coach of the Year, young sprint sensation Shawnti Jackson is named Youth Athlete of the Year and Masters standouts Jenny Hitchings and Sue McDonald are named Masters Athletes of the Year.
The recipients will be honored at the 2023 USATF Night of Legends on Saturday, December 2 in Orlando, Florida as a part of the USATF Annual Meeting. All Annual Meeting attendees are invited to attend the event at no cost to celebrate alongside the winners.
2023 Jackie Joyner-Kersee Female Athlete of the Year Award: Sha’Carri Richardson
A dominant Sha’Carri Richardson took over the world stage in 2023 and gave a glimpse at what was to come later in the season with a windy 10.57 (+4.1) at the Miramar Invitational early in the season in April. 23-year-old Richardson had 12 wind-legal sub-11 clockings in the 100 through the 2023 season, capped off by a 10.65 to take gold at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest and move her to No. 5 on the world all-time performer list. Throughout the season Richardson took the 100 crown at three separate Diamond League meetings and won the USATF Nike Women’s 100 title in 10.82. With Budapest 200 bronze, Richardson became the first American woman to medal in both sprints since Carmelita Jeter took gold and silver in 2011. In one of the most memorable moments of Budapest 23, Richardson anchored the U.S. women’s 4×100 to gold in a world-leading 41.03 to pull off a glorious USA 4×100 sweep.
Sha’Carri Richardson reacts to winning 100m, Getty Images for World Athletics
2023 Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year Award: Noah Lyles
Noah Lyles, World Athletics Championships
August 19-27, 2023
For the second season in a row, Noah Lyles went undefeated in the 200, tallying six sub-20 clockings throughout the season including a world-leading 19.47 at the London Diamond League. His ability to excel from the 60 to the 200 proved to many that Lyles is not solely a 200 specialist. In a span of six days at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23, Lyles added three world titles to his already-impressive resume to become a six-time world champion at the age of 26. At Budapest 23, Lyles became the third American man in history to complete a successful sprint triple to join the ranks of Tyson Gay and Maurice Greene. He clocked a 9.83 to win the 100, followed by a 19.52 for gold in the 200 – his third straight in the event, and anchored the 4×100 in a world-leading 37.38 for triple the glory.
Dennis Mitchell Named 2023 USATF Nike Coach of the Year
A laundry list of accomplishments by Dennis Mitchell’s athletes earned him the honor of 2023 USATF Nike Coach of the Year. Mitchell guided Sha’Carri Richardson to a dominant, breakthrough season in both the 100 and 200 as she clocked personal bests of 10.65 and 21.92 and secured three world medals. He coached TeeTee Terry to yet another world championships relay appearance where she helped to secure a gold in the 4×100 at Budapest, and he guided Kenny Bednarek to a fifth-place finish in the 200 at that meet. Bednarek was the Diamond League Final runner-up in the 200 at Eugene.
Shawnti Jackson Named 2023 USATF Youth Athlete of the Year
Shawnti Jackson just signed NIL deal with Brooks, photo courtesy of Megan Sills/ Brooks Running
North Carolina high schooler Shawnti Jackson burned up the track indoors and outdoors in 2023, setting three national high school records and winning gold in the 200 at the Pan American U20 Championships before anchoring Team USATF to an American U20 record and gold in the 4×100 relay. Jackson was fifth in the Millrose Games 60, taking down the high school record with a 7.16, and she set the 300 record at Virginia Beach in January with a 36.63 clocking. At the Music City Track Carnival in Nashville, she sped to a 10.89 win that gave her the prep 100 record. A semifinalist in the open 100 at the Toyota USATF Outdoor Championships, Jackson returned to win the U20 200 title in a then-PB 22.48.
Hitchings, McDonald Named 2023 USATF Masters Long Distance Running and Track and Field Athletes of the Year
For the second year in a row, Jenny Hitchings has been named the USATF Masters Long Distance Running Athlete of the Year. Having turned 60 during the 2023 season, Hitchings moved from the 55-59 age division to the 60-64 division and uniquely set records in both divisions in a single season. In April, Hitchings reclaimed the world 55-59 marathon record at 2:45:27, breaking the 15km, 20km, 25km, and 30km American records in the division along the way.
After turning 60, Hitchings took on the Chicago Marathon with her sights set on another world record – one that belonged to Joan Benoit Samuelson. She succeeded, chopping the world record to 2:49:43. Similar to her London Marathon, she bettered age-division American records in the 15km, 20km, 25km, 30km, and half marathon en route. In addition to her marathon success, Hitchings added a 10 mile 60-64 American record to her list with a 62:58 at the USATF Masters 10 Mile Championships in September.
Sue McDonald went on a world record-setting spree in 2023, setting six WMA outdoor records and two indoor records across an array of events. McDonald opened her campaign with golds in the W60-64 800 (2:25.72) and 1500 (5:08.88) at the World Masters Indoor Athletics Championships in Torun, Poland, setting WMA records in both events. She then took three golds, two with WMA Record performances, at the USATF Masters Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina, winning the 400 in 62.34, the 800 in 2:29.97, and the 300 hurdles in 48.89. For good measure she earned silver in the 200.
Capping off her year at the USATF Masters Combined Events Championships at Mt. SAC, McDonald scored 6,269 points for gold in the heptathlon and a WMA record. In non-Championship competitions, McDonald set WMA records in the outdoor 800 (2:22.52), 1500 (5:04.27) and mile (5:28.02).