The Wanda Diamond League hit new heights in 2023, with seven world records and 12 first-time champions crowning what was arguably the greatest season in the series' history. In the first part of our season review, we take a look back at all the action in Doha, Rabat and Florence.
Season review part one: Peace, love and Faith
Sha'Carri Richardson had never won a Diamond League meeting before she arrived in Doha for the season opener in May, but that was all about to change in what turned out to be a landmark season for the charismatic American sprinter. Richardson raced to a meeting record and world lead of 10.76 in Qatar, her first of three wins on the circuit this year. "I'm so blessed and thankful, I feel at peace. All I do is the best I do and I'm excited to do it. Peace, love and life," she said afterwards. Indian javelin star Neeraj Chopra got his title defence off to a winning start with a world leading 88.67m, falling just short of the 90-metre-mark he so desperately craves. Richardson, meanwhile, was not the only one who started as she meant to go on in Doha. Pole vaulter Katie Moon, 400m hurdler Rai Benjamin and 1500m star Faith Kipyegon also got early points on the board, in a sign of things to come for the rest of the season.
There were big wins for several reigning and former Diamond League champions in Rabat. Fred Kerley and Shericka Jackson both notched up meeting records in the sprints, with Kerley clocking 9.94 in the 100m and Jackson cruising to 21.91m in the 200m. Ukrainian high jump star Yaroslava Mahuchikh also began her title defence with a meeting record of 2.01m, but it was local boy Soufiane El Bakkali who really got the crowd roaring in the Moroccan capital. The Olympic, world and Diamond League champion in the 3000m steeplechase, El Bakkali delivered the race of his life on home soil to clock a meeting record, world lead and personal best of 7:56.68. "My aim was to break the world record but I got tired in the last lap. I can't describe my happiness," the Moroccan said after he was roared over the finish line. The tragic events in Morocco later that summer would ultimately keep El Bakkali from defending his title in Eugene, but if his early-season form is anything to go by, then he remains the favourite for next year's Diamond Trophy.
Erriyon Knighton ran a season's best in the 200m in Florence. Femke Bol clocked a meeting record in the 400m hurdles. Larissa Iapichino leapt to victory in front of her home crowd in the long jump. But really, it was all about Faith Kipyegon as the Pietro Mennea Golden Gala returned to the city of the Renaissance for the second time in three years. The Kenyan distance star had come close to the 1500m world record on several occasions in the previous two years, and knew she could run fast in Florence after breaking the national record there in 2021. Yet she blew all that out of the water this year, clocking 3:49.11 to smash Genzebe Dibaba's previous world record and ink her name indelibly into the history books. "This was really important because this was something I was still missing in my career," ehs said. "Getting this, it will really motivate me and I left the legacy for the next generation - they can say she broke the world record, she was the Olympic and the world champion. It was amazing tonight. This was special so lets celebrate it now and we will see what happens in Monaco." Let's see indeed.