The Year in Review, 2023: The top five women’s performances in sport

South Africa's Caster Semenya reacts after competing in the women's 3000m final during the Athletics South Africa (ASA) Athletics Grand Prix at the Greenpoint Athletics Stadium in Cape Town

From Desiree Ellis to Caster Semenya (pictured), there have been a number of world class performances in women’s sport in 2023, writes IOL Sport’s Michael Sherman. Picture: Rodger Bosch/AFP

Published Dec 30, 2023


From Desiree Ellis to Caster Semenya, there have been a number of world class performances on the sporting field, and off it in 2023, and here are the five best according to IOL Sport writer Michael Sherman.

Desiree Ellis

In an achievement which surpassed their mail counterparts, Banyana Banyana advanced beyond the group stages of the Fifa Women’s World Cup for the first time in their history. This came after Banyana were crowned Women’s Africa Cup of Nations champions last year - also a first. Ellis was also crowned Coach of the Year at the CAF awards in December.

Tigst Assefa

In 2023, Tigst Assefa went from top marathon runner to world record holder - cutting off a massive chunk of the previous mark. In a truly remarkable run in the Berlin Marathon on September 24, Assefa shattered the previous mark by over two minutes. Crossing the line in a scarcely believable 2 hours 11 minutes and 53 seconds (2:11:53), the 27-year-old bettered Brigid Kosgei’s previous world record of 2:11:04 by 2:11.

Aitana Bonmatí

Spain’s victory in the Fifa Women’s World Cup would not have been possible without the vital contributions of Aitana Bonmatí. The 25-year-old was a vital cog in the Spanish midfield as they beat England 1-0 in the final to lift the most sought-after trophy in football. For her efforts, Bonmatí was also awarded the Golden Ball for Player of the Tournament.

Lilia Vu

As women’s golf continued its growth in 2023, Lilia Vu was the standout player with two major wins. The 26-year-old won the Chevron Championship and the Women’s British Open as she rose to world number one. She also won two other titles in 2023, for a total of four victories as she added the LPGA Tour Player of the Year award to her growing list of accolades.

Caster Semenya

Though Caster Semenya was not permitted the chance to produce any of her trademark world class performances on the track due to the rules effectively banning DSD (Difference of Sexual Development) athletes from competition, her landmark victory came in the court room.

In July, Semenya won her case in the European Court of Human Rights which ruled the double Olympic champion was the victim of discrimination. The 32-year-old has stuck to her guns in refusing to take testosterone-lowering medication in order to keep competing, and is instead fighting her battles off the track for what she believes is more important - basic human rights in athletics. Long may she keep up the fight, in order to create a better world for future stars.


IOL Sport