World Athletics look back on ‘Year 2023’

Edwin  - CEO December 31, 2023
Updated 2023/12/31 at 7:49 PM
17 Min Read
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2023 review: Relays


Alexis Holmes celebrates USA’s mixed 4x400m world record at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 (© Getty Images)


As the year draws to a close, we look back at the key moments of 2023 in each area of the sport, Mike Rowbottom reports for World Athletics.


The series concludes with a review of the relays, following reviews of all the other event groups.


Men’s 4x100m

Season top list

37.38 United States (USA) Budapest 26 August
37.62 Italy (ITA) Budapest 26 August
37.68 Jamaica (JAM) Budapest 25 August
37.71 Japan (JPN) Budapest 25 August
37.72 South Africa (RSA) Budapest 25 August


Full season top list

World medallists

🥇 United States (USA) 37.38 WL
🥈 Italy (ITA) 37.62 SB
🥉 Jamaica (JAM) 37.76
  Full results

Major winners

World Championships: United States (USA) 37.38
Asian Championships: Thailand (THA) 38.55
South American Championships: Brazil (BRA) 38.70
Pan-American Games: Brazil (BRA) 38.68
Asian Games: China (CHN) 38.29

Season at a glance

Noah Lyles ticked the final box at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 as he brought the US men’s 4x100m relay team home victorious to secure a third gold medal following his earlier individual wins in the 100m and 200m.


Having talked the talk, the 26-year-old walked the walk – all the way to the finish.


He brought the baton home in 37.38, the fastest time recorded this year, although two perilous exchanges after Christian Coleman had got the team off to an expected smart start – between last year’s world 100m champion Fred Kerley and Brandon Carnes, and then between the latter and Lyles – almost spoiled the party.


Italy – fielding three of the four men who earned them the Olympic title in Tokyo two years ago in individual Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs, Lorenzo Patta and Filippo Tortu – kept Lyles on point as they came home for silver in 37.62.



“This is the third gold for me here,” Lyles said after helping his country regain a title they had relinquished to Canada at the previous year’s World Championships. “It’s sensational, amazing. You can’t do better. It’s out of control.”


Bronze went to the Jamaican quartet of Ackeem Blake, Oblique Seville, Ryiem Forde and Rohan Watson, who clocked 37.76 to finish 0.04 clear of a British team – consisting of Jeremiah Azu, Zharnel Hughes, Adam Gemili and Eugene Amo-Dadzie – that looked thoroughly gutted by this turn of events.


“This is a new generation and we are proud to bring home the bronze,” said Seville.


“This medal gives us extra motivation for the upcoming Olympic Games. We want to continue to deliver medals for Jamaica.”


Japan finished fifth in 37.83 and France sixth in 38.06, while South Africa did not finish and Brazil were disqualified.


Eight nations went sub-38 seconds in 2023, compared to five the previous year. All but one of those performances took place in Budapest.


Women’s 4x100m

Season top list

41.03 United States (USA) Budapest 26 August
41.21 Jamaica (JAM) Budapest 26 August
41.90 Cote d’Ivoire (CIV) Budapest 25 August
41.97 Great Britain & NI (GBR) Budapest 26 August
42.14 Italy (ITA) Budapest 25 August

Full season top list

World medallists

🥇 United States (USA) 41.03 CR
🥈 Jamaica (JAM) 41.21 SB
🥉 Great Britain & NI (GBR) 41.97 SB
  Full results

Major winners

World Championships: United States (USA) 41.03
Asian Championships: China (CHN) 43.35
South American Championships: Brazil (BRA) 43.47
Pan-American Games: Cuba (CUB) 43.72
Asian Games: China (CHN) 43.39

Season at a glance

Sha’Carri Richardson, already the 100m champion and 200m bronze medallist, secured a second gold at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest as she anchored the United States to sprint relay victory in a championship record of 41.03.


That was an improvement of 0.04 on the previous record set at the 2011 Daegu championships by Jamaica, who were second in Budapest in a season’s best of 41.21, with Britain claiming bronze in 41.98 – also a season’s best.



Richardson had been handed – and maintained – a significant advantage over Jamaica’s anchor-leg runner, two-time world 200m champion and world 100m silver medallist Shericka Jackson.


That lead was thanks to the earlier efforts of Tamari Davis, Twanisha Terry and individual 200m silver medallist Gabby Thomas, whose superb bend running on the third leg reversed the advantage that had been gained by Jamaica’s 36-year-old second-leg runner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the five-time world 100m champion.


Fraser-Pryce was handed the baton by Natasha Morrison and passed it over to third-leg runner Shashalee Forbes.


Elaine Thompson-Herah, who matched Fraser-Pryce’s record of two Olympic 100m titles at the last two Games, ran in the heats.


Britain, represented by Asha Philip, Imani Lansiquot, Bianca Williams and Daryll Neita, was one of four nations to run under 42 seconds in 2023, with Cote d’Ivoire one place ahead of them in the world list through the 41.90 clocked in the Budapest heats, although they failed to finish in the final.


Fraser-Pryce now has 16 world medals, four shy of the record tally held by Allyson Felix of the United States.


Men’s 4x400m

Season top list

2:57.31 United States (USA) Budapest 27 August
2:58.45 France (FRA) Budapest 27 August
2:58.71 Great Britain & NI (GBR) Budapest 27 August
2:59.05 India (IND) Budapest 26 August
2:59.34 Jamaica (JAM) Budapest 27 August

Full season top list

World medallists

🥇 United States (USA) 2:57.31 WL
🥈 France (FRA) 2:58.45 NR
🥉 Great Britain & NI (GBR) 2:58.71 SB
  Full results

Major winners

World Championships: United States (USA) 2:57.31
Asian Championships: Sri Lanka (SRI) 3:01.56
South American Championships: Venezuela (VEN) 3:04.14
Pan-American Games: Brazil (BRA) 3:03.92
Asian Games: India (IND) 3:01.58


Season at a glance

The United States underlined its domination of this event by winning a third consecutive world title in Budapest.


The US quartet lived up to their status as favourites to come home in 2:57.31 – the fastest time recorded in 2023.


Individual world 400m bronze medallist Quincy Hall led off, establishing a clear lead before handing over the baton to the man he had beaten to the podium by one place, Vernon Norwood.


By the time the latter offered the baton to Justin Robinson – already a gold medallist from the mixed relay – the lead was comfortable, and victory was sealed by 400m hurdles bronze medallist Rai Benjamin.


It was the United States’ ninth gold medal in the men’s 4x400m from the past 10 editions of the World Championships – they took silver behind Trinidad and Tobago at the London 2017 edition.



For France, desperately searching for a medal with the Paris 2024 Olympic Games on the horizon, there was the much-needed relief of an unexpected silver medal – which turned out to be the only one the team won at the championships.


The quartet of Ludvy Vaillant, Gilles Biron, David Sombe and Teo Andant rose to the big occasion as they set a French record of 2:58.45.


At one point on the final lap it looked as though Antonio Watson, the individual world 400m champion, would move Jamaica into a medal position, but Britain’s Rio Mitcham held on to third place, crossing the line in 2:58.71. Watson brought Jamaica home fourth in 2:59.34.


India, who had challenged the United States in the heats, didn’t feature in the medal hunt and placed fifth in 2:59.92.


As in 2022, only three nations went sub-2:59 in the course of the year, comparted to eight in 2021. In 2023 those nations were the three eventual medallists, although India had clocked 2:59.05 in the heats.


Women’s 4x400m

Season top list

3:20.72 Netherlands (NED) Budapest 27 August
3:20.88 Jamaica (JAM) Budapest 27 August
3:21.04 Great Britain & NI (GBR) Budapest 27 August
3:22.42 Canada (CAN) Budapest 27 August
3:22.84 Belgium (BEL) Budapest 27 August

Full season top list

World medallists

🥇 Netherlands (NED) 3:20.72 WL
🥈 Jamaica (JAM) 3:20.88 SB
🥉 Great Britain & NI (GBR) 3:21.04 SB
  Full results

Major winners

World Championships: Netherlands (NED) 3:20.72 
Asian Championships: Vietnam (VIE) 3:32.36
South American Championships: Colombia (COL) 3:31.39
Pan-American Games: Cuba (CUB) 3:33.15
Asian Games: Bahrain (BRN) 3:27.65


Season at a glance

Having fallen in the final metres of the opening day’s mixed relay at the World Athletics Championships, Femke Bol – by now the owner of a first global gold in the 400m hurdles – rose superlatively in the final track event.


Inconsolable after losing the baton and causing the Netherlands to be disqualified as they appeared to be on the brink of mixed 4x400m gold, Bol had reacted in the best possible manner in her individual event and by the time she lined up for the women’s 4x400m final she was a model of confidence and composure.


Bol needed all of those qualities, however, after taking over the baton from third leg runner Cathelijn Peeters 10 metres adrift of Jamaica’s last-leg runner Stacey Ann Williams, with Britain’s Nicole Yeargin in silver medal position.


Williams, super-energized, went off very fast and as she arrived into the final straight the gap between the three runners was much the same. But as the Jamaican and Briton began to labour, Bol started to erode the gap with her long, driving stride.


The Briton was passed with around 50 metres to go and it looked like a consolatory silver for the Dutch. But Bol was still charging on, and as the legs began to go for the leader she exchanged silver for gold in the space of the final 10 metres, to a roar of disbelief from the crowd in the newly-built National Athletics Centre.



The 23-year-old had exchanged her disastrous opening for a triumphant finale, securing top spot on the podium for herself and teammates Eveline Saalberg, Lieke Klaver and Peeters.


Meanwhile, the fates had turned around the fortunes of the opening day. The United States team, defending the title with Holmes again on the anchor leg, were disqualified in the heats for an illegal baton exchange.


The first five home in the Budapest final clocked the five fastest times of the year. The Dutch, Jamaican and British teams earned their medals by clocking 3:20.72, 3:20.88 and 3:21.04 respectively, with Canada fourth in 3:22.42 and Belgium fifth in 3:22.84.


These were the only five nations to run a sub-3:23 in 2023, one fewer than in the previous year.


Mixed 4x400m

Season top list

3:08.80 United States (USA) Budapest 19 August
3:11.06 Great Britain & NI (GBR) Budapest 19 August
3:11.81 Belgium (BEL) Budapest 19 August
3:11.98 Czechia (CZE) Budapest 19 August
3:12.12 Netherlands (NED) Budapest 19 August

Full season top list

World medallists

🥇 United States (USA) 3:08.80 WR
🥈 Great Britain & NI (GBR) 3:11.06 NR
🥉 Czechia (CZE) 3:11.98 NR
  Full results

Major winners

World Championships: United States (USA) 3:08.80
Asian Championships: India (IND) 3:14.70
South American Championships: Colombia (COL) 3:14.79
Pan-American Games: Dominican Republic (DOM) 3:16.05
Asian Games: Bahrain (BRN) 3:14.02


Season at a glance

The mixed relay final closed the track session on the opening day of the World Athletics Championships and 10 metres from the finish line Femke Bol, who earlier in 2023 had beaten the world indoor 400m record that had stood since 1982, looked set to anchor the Netherlands to gold.


After taking over a narrow lead for the last leg, the Olympic bronze medallist and world silver medallist in the 400m hurdles lengthened it around the final bend. But Alexis Holmes, anchor runner for the United States, refused to lose touch.


And as the Dutch athlete became aware of her opponent drawing alongside her she pitched forward on to the track, no more than five metres from the line. Despite scrambling to her feet and getting home as the third runner, Bol’s attempt was in vain as the baton had rolled away on to the infield beyond the finish as she hit the track.



The Netherlands, whom Bol had anchored to silver at the previous year’s World Championships behind the Dominican Republic, were disqualified.


As the United States celebrated the dramatic turn of events which allowed them to regain the title they had won when the event made its debut at the Doha 2019 World Championships, Bol was distraught; and not to be consoled.


To add to the US delight, the quartet of Justin Robinson, Rosey Effiong, Matthew Boling and Holmes was able to celebrate a world record time of 3:08.80 which took more than half a second off the time the United States had clocked in Qatar four years earlier.


Silver went to the British quartet of Lewis Davey, Laviai Nielsen, Rio Mitcham and Yemi Mary John in a national record of 3:11.06, with the Czechia team of Matej Krsek, Tereza Petrzilkova, Patrik Sorm and Lada Vondrova taking bronze in a national record of 3:11.98.


The Dominican Republic, due to defend their title, had not started in the heats.


The overall level of performance rose dramatically from that of 2022 as the number of nations recording a sub-3:15 time rose from nine to 22.


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