The Mark of Greatness - Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year

Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Nominees

Regaining the No.1 ranking. Smashing world records. Leading a team to glory. Winning more races than any athlete has before. Our Nominees for Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year took different routes to get to the same destination – the very top of their game. 
What does it mean to be the best? The answer can change from sport to sport; from athlete to athlete; and for each athlete, from year to year. That first breakthrough championship; Olympic gold; a world record; a multi-championship dynasty-team; the World No.1 ranking; winning more than anyone has before; or the ultimate sporting accolade, a Laureus statuette. The Nominees for the 2024 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award, they may have reached new heights in 2023, but for each of these six great athletes, the journey will not end there.

Whether you were watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup or the World Athletics Championships; Grand Slam tennis tournaments or the Alpine Skiing World Cup, these sportswomen stood out, even amongst the best in the world. But for each of them, the celebration of victory was brief, the elation soon replaced by renewed focus for the next challenge.
For Faith Kipyegon, that challenge is not only represented by the athletes who line up alongside her on the athletics track, but by the clock. At the 2023 World Athletics Championship she became the first woman in history to complete the double of 1,500 and 5,000 metres. She is also the reigning Olympic champion over the shorter distance, and will go for a third career gold in Paris this summer. Her performance in Budapest shared top billing with an incredible three world records in 49 days, as she set new marks in the 1,500 metres (becoming the first woman to run sub 3 minutes 50 seconds), the 5,000 meters (in her first race over that distance since 2015) and the mile. Kipyegon is poised to be one of the stars of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. 

Shericka Jackson has a similar relationship with the digital time display at the side of the track, although her pursuit of one of the most elusive world records in track and field continues for another year at least. At the World Athletics Championships in Hungary, Jackson repeated her medal haul from 2022: silver in both the 100 metres and the 4x100 metre relay, plus gold in her signature event, the 200 metres. However, this time she ran the race of her life, stopping the clock at 21.41 seconds, the second-fastest women’s 200 metres of all time and just seven hundredths of a second behind Florence Griffith-Joyner’s world record, set in the 1988 Olympic final. Her immediate reaction – a combination of pride and frustration – revealed a determination to continue the chase in France.

In the 100 metres, Jackson finished behind Sha’Carri Richardson, the 23-year-old American competing in her first major global final. With Jackson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce seemingly jousting for gold in the middle of the field, Richardson’s sudden emergence in lane eight was a show-stopping moment. Her time of 10.65 seconds is tied for fifth on the all-time list and she will go to her first Olympic Games with great expectations. 
Aitana Bonmati Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Nominee
The identity of the world’s greatest female footballer could scarcely be clearer. Aitana Bonmatí led Spain to the World Cup title in Australia, and won the Golden Ball given to the outstanding player of that tournament. She won Liga F and the Champions League with Barcelona, and was named UEFA Women’s Player of the Year and the winner of the Ballon d’Or Feminin. In the voting for the latter, Bonmatí received first-placed votes from 42 of the 47 judges. As a post by Nike put it: The Best Season. Of any footballer. Ever.
Tennis star Iga Świątek ended the year as World No.1, as she had in 2022, and picked up a fourth Grand Slam championship, winning the French Open by defeating the unseeded Karolina Muchova 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in the final. That was the highlight of a year that brought six titles, including at the year-ending WTA Finals, where she became the first player since Serena Williams in 2012 to go through the tournament (contested by the top eight players in the world) without dropping a set. That feat ensured that she overtook Aryna Sabalenka at the top of the rankings going in to 2024. In the ultra-competitive field of women’s tennis, Świątek’s resilience at its pinnacle is a mark of greatness.

Finally, Mikaela Shiffrin is nominated for a fifth time in this category, after a year in which the alpine skier finally left every one of her competitors and her predecessors in her wake. With World Cup win No.87 (she finished the year on 88) the American surpassed the mark of Ingemar Stenmark to become the most successful World Cup skier of all time. She finished the season with titles in the overall, slalom and giant slalom. At the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, Shiffrin won a seventh career gold, in giant slalom, and silvers in slalom and Super-G.  And she appeared twice in the Time100 list of the world’s most influential people: once on the list itself, and once as a writer, contributing an essay on Iga  Świątek, another member of that exclusive club – and of this one, the Nominees for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award. 

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