World Women’s Athlete Of The Year — Dalilah Muhammad

The world’s top long hurdler, Dalilah Muhammad became the first American woman to be AOY since Sanya Richards-Ross in ’09. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

VOTING BY OUR 36-member international panel in this annual exercise—our 46th year of choosing a Women’s Athlete Of The Year—was scored on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Voters are required to respect the order of our World Rankings in casting their votes. Any ballot that doesn’t follow the norms as established by their peers is discarded…

There are just 3 repeaters from last year’s Top 10: Salwa Eid Naser moved from No. 6 to No. 3, Mariya Lasitskene dropped from 4 to 6 and Beatrice Chepkoech fell from 2 to 8.… Lasitskene now has a string of 3 straight years in the Top 10, having been No. 2 in ’17… Conspicuously absent was 3-time winner Anita Włodarczyk after 5 straight years in the first 9…

The 2019 Top 10 (the voting chart appears at the end of the article):

1. Dalilah Muhammad (United States)

It’s hard not to be AOY when you score a pair of World Records, although it did happen to hammer thrower Anita Włodarczyk in ’15 when Genzebe Dibaba edged her out. There was no edging this time around as Dalilah Muhammad parlayed her pair of new 400H standards—52.20 & 52.16—to a convincing win. The 29-year-old American captured 24 of the votes for No. 1 en route to a 93.9% approval rating, the highest in the last 9 years. She was also the year’s eleventh-fastest on the flat at 50.60 and tossed in a 49.43 relay leg at the World Championships.

2. Sifan Hassan (Netherlands)

With a WC timetable that unfortunately prevented a more logical 1500/5000 double, Sifan Hassan opted for an unusual 1500/10,000 pairing, even though she had never run a track 10K when the year began. The experiment was most successful, with double golds in Doha, the longer race with an amazing negative-split pace. The WC didn’t make for fast 10K times, but the 1500 did, where Hassan scared the WR with her No. 2-ever 3:51.95. On the DL Circuit she broke the mile WR with her 4:12.33 in Monaco. For good measure she also won the Diamond Trophy in the 5000 and rated No. 2 in that event. The 26-year-old Hollander got 8 votes for No. 1 here.

3. Salwa Eid Naser (Bahrain)

After her breakout ’18 campaign, which brought her from nowhere to No. 1 in the 400 and No. 6 in AOY balloting, we cited the then 20-year-old Bahraini as the youngest of our Top 10. That still holds at 21 as she got only better, going undefeated and topping out with a 48.14 gold at the WC. That’s the No. 3 performance ever, trailing only a pair of marks which date back to the ’80s. She won 5 DL meets, including the Final and relayed 49.1 in Doha. A 200 ranking almost came her way as she ran 22.51.

4. Brigid Kosgei (Kenya)

She ended up with a high rating, but marathon WR setter Brigid Kosgei was a polarizing figure. Or, more properly put, her footwear was polarizing, with her support ranging all the way from a pair of No. 1s to several voters leaving off their ballot altogether. Whether her shoes had much/anything to do with her imposing destruction of the all-time best, there’s no question that the 25-year-old Kenyan, already a respected marathon force who had rated No. 2 in ’18, recorded the Nos. 1 (2:14:04 to win Chicago) and 10 (2:18:20 to win London) times ever.

5. Yulimar Rojas (Venezuela)

If it seems like the triple jump WR has been around nearly forever, that’s because the mark is on the cusp of having existed for a quarter-century. Will Yulimar Rojas take down Inessa Kravets’ longstanding 50-10¼ (15.50) before it turns 25 on August 10? The 23-year-old Venezuelan gave the mark its biggest scare yet when she jumped 50-6¾ (15.41) in September. A few weeks later she frightened the all-time best yet again, producing the No. 4 mark ever, 50-5¼ (15.37) to capture WC gold.

6. Mariya Lasitskene (Russia)

Nobody else in the Top 10 competed in as many meets (23) or won as many meets (21) as did glutton for punishment Mariya Lasitskene, who is making a habit of jumping in a score of meets or more. And her impressive volume hasn’t come with any diminishment of maintaining peak form. In no fewer than 17 of her meets she reached the 2-meter (6-6¾) barrier. Overall, the 26-year-old Russian claimed 12 of the 13 highest clearances of the year. In addition to claiming WC gold she was perfect in DL competition, going 6-for-6. No wonder she got a couple of votes for No. 1 here.

7. Malaika Mihambo (Germany)

The big barrier in women’s long jumping is 7m (23-11¾) and it remains a difficult benchmark to achieve. Well, not so much if you’re Malaika Mihambo, who did it in 7 meets (and added a pair of 6.99s for good measure), while only two others did it even once. It’s not surprising that the 25-year-old German was beaten only once in her 14 meets as she repeated as No. 1 in the event. The best of her marks, 23-11½ (7.30), captured WC gold and moved her to No. 12 on the all-time list. She’s the first pure long jumper since Heike Drechsler in ’93 to make the Top 10.

8. Beatrice Chepkoech (Kenya)

The first 3-in-a-row No. 1 in the steeplechase ever, Beatrice Chepkoech splashed her way to the 3 fastest times of the year, with her pair of sub-9:00s, her 8:55.58 and 8:57.84 rating as performances Nos. 5 & 6 ever. She now owns 7 of history’s 14 sub-9:00 performances. The 28-year-old Kenyan dominated the DL Circuit with 4 wins (plus a 2nd) and finished off her 1-loss season with a World Champs gold. In the 3000 sans obstacles she was the year’s ninth-fastest at 8:29.83.

9. Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Great Britain)

Befitting a great multi-eventer, Katarina Johnson-Thompson etched her name into the World Rankings books in a pair of events, adding a No. 8 in the long jump to go with her heptathlon leadership. She had her best 7-eventer ever in Doha, PRing in the 100H, shot and javelin en route to a 6981 total that moved her to No. 16 on the all-time world list. She had a seasonal best of 22-5¾ (6.85) in the LJ and took 3rd in the DL Final.

10. DeAnna Price (United States)

DeAnna Price established all kinds of U.S. high notes this year. American Record in the hammer, first American woman thrower in any event to win a WC gold, first American to earn a World Rankings spot 4 years in a row, first-ever American No. 1. All of which added up to the first AOY Top 10 spot ever by an American hammer artist. She had the 6 farthest throws of the year and 8 of the top 10, headed by her AR 256-8 (78.24).


The Voting Chart

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Total %
1. Dalilah Muhammad 24 7 2 2 1 338 93.9%
2. Sifan Hassan 8 10 11 3 3 1 299 83.1%
3. Salwa Eid Naser 11 8 13 2 2 274 76.1%
4. Brigid Kosgei 2 8 9 6 3 2 2 1 240 66.7%
5. Yulimar Rojas 3 3 8 4 11 1 1 3 165 45.8%
6. Mariya Lasitskene 2 3 6 3 3 6 7 4 143 39.7%
7. Malaika Mihambo 3 3 5 5 6 1 3 107 29.7%
8. Beatrice Chepkoech 1 3 4 4 4 3 5 84 23.3%
9. Katarina Johnson-Thompson 1 6 3 4 1 6 68 18.9%
10. DeAnna Price 1 1 5 2 2 6 3 67 18.6%
11. Sydney McLaughlin 63; 12. Shaunae Miller-Uibo 52; 13. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce 31; 14. Anzhelika Sidorova 23; 15. Lijiao Gong 15; 16. Hellen Obiri 5; 17. Hong Liu 4; 18. Yaimé Pérez 2.
View All Years’ Top 10 Voting View All The Women’s AOYs Jump To Men’s Top 10

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