USATF - McLaughlin-Levrone, Lyles take Jackie Joyner-Kersee Award and Jesse Owens Award as USATF Athletes of the Year; Walker named Nike Coach of the Year; Willis is Youth Athlete of the Year, Hitchings and Meiler are Masters Athletes of the Year.

INDIANAPOLIS — Double world record setter and double World gold medalist Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone has been named the 2022 USATF Jackie Joyner-Kersee Award winner, while World and Diamond League champion, relay silver medalist, and American record setter Noah Lyles has won the 2022 USATF Jesse Owens Award. Accomplished coach Brad Walker is named 2022 USATF Nike Coach of the Year, teenage sensation Roisin Willis, and Masters stars Jenny Hitchings and Flo Meiler won their respective categories, USATF announced.
The recipients will be honored at the 2022 USATF Night of Legends on Saturday, December 3 in Orlando, Florida, as part of the USATF Annual Meeting. All on-site annual meeting registrants are invited to attend at no cost.

2022 Jackie Joyner Kersee Female Athlete of the Year Award: Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone

Undefeated at all distances in 2022, and in the 400m hurdles since finishing second to Dalilah Muhammad’s world record in Doha in 2019, McLaughlin-Levrone’s season was nothing short of dominant. On a sweltering afternoon in June, McLaughlin-Levrone broke the 400m hurdles world record for the third time in her career with a 51.41 win at the Toyota USATF Outdoor Championships, besting the field by more than a second and a half. Less than a month later, she shattered the world record by the largest margin since 1977, bettering her mark by .73 seconds with a mind-blowing 50.68. McLaughlin-Levrone ran sub-52 in four races this season, a barrier that had never been broken until she did it at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2021. Anchoring the women’s winning 4x400m relay with a 47.9 split, McLaughlin-Levrone and Team USATF ran away with world-leading gold in 3:17.79 over Jamaica’s 3:20.74.

2022 Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year Award: Noah Lyles

An undefeated season and an American record in the 200m highlighted one of the best seasons ever for Lyles, who captured the World Championships gold in a stunning 19.31 to break the national record that was set in 1996 by Michael Johnson. In his 12 races over the half-lap in 2022, Lyles had 11 wind-legal sub-20 second clockings and he capped off the year with a convincing win in the Diamond League final. He won his eight finals by an average of .29 seconds, including a massive .46 margin to take the world title. Running the backstretch on Team USATF's 4x100m relay at the World Championships, Lyles helped his quartet to a silver medal.

Brad Walker named 2022 USATF Nike Coach of the Year

When athletes you coach take the top two spots in a single event at the year's two global championships, something is definitely going right. Walker guided Katie Nageotte and Sandi Morris to women's pole vault gold and silver at the World Championships in Eugene, reversing the order of finish from the World Indoor Championships in Serbia in March. Nageotte and Morris waged an epic battle for gold in Eugene, with Nageotte taking the top spot on the podium by virtue of her first-attempt clearance at 4.85m/15-11, a height Morris needed two tries to negotiate. At Belgrade, Morris sailed over 4.80m/15-9 on her final attempt to grab the gold over Nageotte, who ended up with a best of 4.75m/15-7. Over the course of the season the duo met nine times, with Morris holding an 8-1 edge over Nageotte, the reigning Olympic champion.

Roisin Willis named 2022 USATF Youth Athlete of the Year

A double gold medalist at the World U20 Championships in Colombia, Willis won the 800m by .4 seconds in 1:59.13, the second-fastest time ever by a U.S. high school woman, and anchored Team USATF to gold in the 4x400m relay. During the indoor season, Willis set a national high school record in the 800m with a 2:00.06 at Boston on Feb. 11, the fastest indoor time in the world by a U20 athlete in 2022, and she followed that with a win at the NBIN in New York City. Her 2:43.34 1,000m at Virginia Beach in January was also the world's fastest by a U20 runner, and she topped the global U20 list at 500m with a 1:10.90 at that same meet. Demonstrating her excellent range, Willis won the 400m at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in 52.64.

Hitchings, Meiler named 2022 USATF Masters Long Distance Running and Track & Field Athletes of the Year

Excellent performances early in the year earned Jenny Hitchings Masters Long Distance Running Athlete of the Year recognition. Hitchings, 59, ran an impressive 1:23:41 at the Austin Half Marathon in February before going on to win the women’s 55-59 division at the USATF Masters 10 Mile Championships. Her time of 1:00:40 bested the field by more than three minutes, earning her a pending American record and bettering her own masters women's age 59 world best for the distance.
Florence “Flo” Meiler earned Masters Track & Field Athlete of the Year recognition for a season that saw her win 18 USATF national titles and set a slew of American and world records. Meiler, 87, set three women's age group world records at the USATF Masters Indoor Championships in New York City in March, clocking 18.73 in the 60m hurdles and clearing 0.92m/3-0.25 in the high jump. She also tallied 3,907 points in the pentathlon to shatter the previous WR. All told, Meiler won eight national indoor titles, and she added 10 more USATF outdoor golds in 2022.
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