Well, Deji Ogeyingbo sure knows how to stir it up! These are his Brave Predictions for 2023! Read them, and tell us what you think!
Brave Predictions for Athletics in 2023: Retirement for Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Erriyon Knighton to come unstuck at the World Championships, and Salwa Eid Naser to return with a bang
With the 2023 season starting soon in track and field, there is so much to look forward to. From the Cross-Country Championships in Australia, World Championships in Budapest, and the Diamond League, there are so many predictions to make for the year ahead, including one of the greats of our sports retiring, the most precocious sprinter in the last two years not making a mark and the return of a world champion.
Surely, making predictions isn’t so easy, but we’ve taken the bull by the horn to come up with these stories that could potentially make headlines this year.
The Pocket-Rocket, Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, will retire at the end of the season.
Allyson Felix called it quits in 2022. Who would be next in 2023? Smart money is on Jamaican sprint-queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. The 36-year-old had arguably her best year in 2022 when she won her fifth title over the 100m.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, photo by Weltklasse Zurich
More important was her impeccable feat of clocking 10.62s during the Monaco Diamond League meet, the fifth fastest time in history. She also owns the third fastest time in history from the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021, clocking a 10.60 performance. Only Florence Griffith-Joyner and Elaine Thompson-Herah have run faster at 10.49 and 10.54, respectively.
Also, seven of the performances run during 2022 are in the top 15 all-time by Fraser-Pryce. Eleven of the top-20 performances were run by the Jamaican, all-time. This is what we have been serenaded by this “Pocket-Rocket.” But time is not friendly to anyone. The body ages, it doesn’t recover from injury quicker, and younger sprinters are popping up at an astronomical level. Fifteen years at the top level is incredible, and at the end of the year, she would be 37.
2. …And Kenenisa Bekele might join her
The debate about who is the greatest distance runner of all time would most likely continue to rage on in 2023, but there is no denying the fact that Kenenisa Bekele has conquered the sport and is the most versatile of every distance runner of all time.
Since switching to the road in 2017, the Ethiopian great has had a topsy-turvy result in the last five years. With his best marathon result coming in 2019 when he ran the second-fastest-ever marathon in 2:01:41, Bekele has struggled to match up with the big boys.
Kenenisa Bekele, 2022 London Marathon by London Marathon
In the fall of 2022, he set the masters record (40 years and above) for the Half marathon when he finished third at the Great North Run. Over the past few years, Bekele has had to deal with so many injuries and personal issues that it has affected his performances. Maybe this year is the last we would get to witness this great runner of our time call it quits.
3. Erriyon Knighton won’t win a world title.
No doubt, Erriyon Knighton is the future of sprinting, and the boy is only just nineteen. The American has been smashing all sorts of records since high school, cumulating in picking bronze at the world championships in Oregon last year.
Erriyon Knighton took the bronze at the WC in the 200 meters, photo by Kevin Morris
Last year, while 17, Knighton clocked 19.84 at the U.S. Olympic Trials to break the world junior record previously held by a certain Usain Bolt. Also, at April’s LSU Invitational, he ran 19.49 to become the fourth fastest man in history, and he picked up the Rising male athlete of the year award for the second time.
As expected, all eyes will be on him to win his first world title in Budapest in August, but there is a feeling he might come short. Defending champion Noah Lyles will be much stronger, and Olympic Champion Andre De Grasse will be back in full force.
There is little doubt that Knighton will become a world champion eventually in his career. But in 2023?
4. Salwa Edi Naser will return with a bang in 2023
Most times, when athletes return from a doping violation, they take time to get into full gear. Christian Coleman, Justin Gatlin, and Tyson Gay, just to mention a few. The 2019 world champion over the 400m was charged by the Athletics Integrity Unit in 2020 for at least three “whereabouts failures” within a year, which can lead to a two-year ban.
Naser is expected to return in early 2023, and there are many indications she will continue from where she left off. When she won the world title with a stunning 48.14 in 2019, it became the third fastest time in history. Since then, only Dominican Republic’s Marileidy Paulino has run inside 49s. Even that was 48.99s.
There are rumors that world record holder in the 400mH, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, might dabble into the 400m flat this year. Still, adjusting to a new terrain might be a step too far.