This piece by Deji Ogeyinbgo is part 2 of the series on the Top 10 male performances of the outdoor Track & Field season (numbers 5-1).
Top 10 male performances of the outdoor Track and Field Season in 2022 (5-1)
In the last four weeks, we started our four-piece countdown of the Top 10 male and female performances in the Track and field outdoor season, with this feature bringing an end to the series.
Some of the criteria used in determining the quality of the performance and how they rank on our list are the competition rankings, athletes’ rankings, and the overall impact the display had in the athletics world. It eventually boils down to fine margins, but we’ve taken a holistic look at the outcomes and compiled these lists.
Here are our top-ranked male performances of the season.
5. Letsile Tebogo (Men’s 100m final at the World U20 Championships)
You know a sprinter has the potential to be great when he begins to draw comparisons to the great Usain Bolt. That was the summary of Letsile Tebogo’s season after the youngster began to draw comparisons with the great Jamaican after his exploits at the World Junior Championships in Cali in August.
Although the Botswanan had reached the semifinal of the 100m at the World Junior Championships in Oregon in July, where he claimed the scalp of former World Champion Yohan Blake and ran a then junior record of 9.94s, it was this performance in Cali that endeared him to fans globally.
Tebogo smashed his own Under-20 world record, clocking 9.91 in the 100m final on his way to winning gold. The 19-year-old could have gone even faster but was coasting through the final 20m, immediately drawing comparisons to Jamaican track legend Usain Bolt who celebrated early when he won the first of his eight Olympic gold medals at Beijing 2008 in a then world record time of 9.69s.
4. Alison Dos Santos (Men’s 400mH final at the World Championships in Oregon)
For the last two years, Alison Dos Santos had played second-fiddle to Karsten Warholm and Rai Benjamin in the men’s 400m Hurdles. In 2021, he emerged from their shadows and did it in grand style, picking up a world title for the first time in his career.
Having blitzed through to victory in all his races prior to his appearance at Hayward field, Dos Santos knew only a win in Oregon would make it a successful season. And the Brazilian duly delivered a gutsy performance on the day.
It was a reprise of the Tokyo 2021 final in which Warholm won Gold with Dos Santos settling for Bronze; the Brazilian was the favorite from the get-go as he upended the script, surging to the front on the final bend and pulling away to the gold in a championship record of 46.29. It was his first world title, and became the first South American to win a medal in this event at the World Championships.
3. Jake Wightman (Men’s 1500m victory at the World Championships in Oregon)
Sometimes in sports, a lot of things can align in your favor to give birth to one of the most improbable stories. If Jake Wightman had ever imagined he would be on his way to winning a world title, the odds of his father Geoff being the stadium announcer for the men’s 1500m was very little.
Still, it happened. It was one of the most heart-warming moments of this year’s world championships, and Jake going on to usurp some of the best middle-distance runners to claim is very first world title was in itself very special. Over the years, everyone knew he was talented and had a very strong finish. But until July, all he had to show for his efforts were two bronze medals from the 2018 Commonwealth Games and European Championships.
But on race day in the men’s 1500m final, the Brit gave it his all. Wightman stayed close contact with the leaders in the early stages of the race as Abel Kipsang, who had not lost a race all season, led and then slipped back at 700m. It was at that point Olympic Champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the Olympic champion and the fastest man in the field, took over and pushed on. It seemed over from there.
Jake first flew past Timothy Cheruiyot, the 2019 world champion. Then, without breaking stride, he muscled clear of Ingebrigtsen to cross the line in 3:29.23. It was Britain’s most surprising gold medal in the 39-year history of the world championships. Certainly, UK Athletics didn’t expect it.
2. Noah Lyles (Men’s 200m victory at the world championships)
Noah Lyles had a little blip at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 when he could only pick up Bronze in the 200m. For an athlete who had been touted to take over the reins from Bolt, it was a wrong he wanted to correct, and what better way to do it than with a dominant performance at the world championships on home soil.
With his impeccable form heading into the Championships, there was little doubt about his ability to defend his title in Oregon. So, for Lyles, it was about setting records. The final had been billed as a showdown between Lyles and the wunderkind Knighton, who ran a world-leading 19.49 in April.
And on race day in the 200m, Lyles broke from the blocks and controlled the race from the start, destroying the field as he came around the turn and accelerated down the straight to become the first back-to-back men’s world 200m champion since Usain Bolt won four titles in a row from 2009 to 2015.
His winning time of 19.31s put Lyles ahead of Michael Johnson and alone in third on the all-time list behind Bolt’s world record of 19.19 and Yohan Blake’s 19.26.
Lyles ripped open his shirt after the finish as the home crowd in Eugene, Oregon, roared with approval, and offered an embrace to rival and rising star Erriyon Knighton who finished third in 19.80 from Kenny Bednarek who won Silver with 19.77s. This was the consummate showman and performer, a man who had rediscovered his joy for the sport, a charismatic athlete who showed the world why he has been tipped as the next Bolt.
1. Armand Duplantis (Men’s Pole Vault final at the World Championships in Oregon)
What can’t Armand Duplantis do at this point? The boy is literally flying as he continues to reach new heights with his performances, and the pinnacle of this year’s display from the Swede took place at the World Championships when he broke the world record again.
On the final night of the world championships at Hayward Field, Duplantis won the gold and broke his own world record to put an exclamation point on the 10-day competition.
Duplantis cleared 6.21m to improve on his own previous world record of 20-4 set in March in Belgrade, Serbia. It was the fifth time Duplantis had broken the pole vault world record, dating back to February 2020.
It was the first time he has broken it outdoors – the last time an outdoor performance led to a world record was when pole vault great Sergey Bubka soared over 6.14m in July 1994, more than five years before Duplantis was even born.