Top 10 World Athletes of 2021

Here is Xinhua’s choice of the world’s top 10 #athletes in 2021:

1. Lionel Messi
In 2021, Messi won the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time. For his efforts in this summer’s Copa America, Messi was named the tournament’s best player and won the Golden Boot.

2. Novak Djokovic
Djokovic won his 20th Grand Slam men’s singles title at Wimbledon, equalling Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer’s joint record.

3. Max Verstappen
Red Bull’s Verstappen won the 2021 Formula 1 world championship after overtaking Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He is the first Dutch driver to win the Formula One World Championship.

4. Robert Lewandowski
Lewandowski scored 41 goals in the 2020-21 season to beat Gerd Muller’s goalscoring record for a single season and help Bayern Munich win their ninth consecutive Bundesliga title.

5. Elaine Thompson-Herah
Thompson-Herah, 29, collected gold medals in the women’s 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Thompson-Herah won the 100m with a new personal best of 10.54 seconds at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Eugene, just 0.05 seconds shy of the world record.

6. Ma Long
At the Tokyo Olympics, Ma beat compatriot Fan Zhendong 4-2 in the final, becoming the first table tennis player in history to win consecutive Olympic titles in the men’s singles event.

7. Caeleb Dressel
Dressel won five gold medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the men’s 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 4x100m freestyle and 4x100m medley relays. He holds nine world records as of August 2021.

8. Karsten Warholm
In July 2021, Warholm broke the 29-year-old world record in 400 meters hurdles. A month later at the Tokyo Olympics, he won the gold medal with a time of 45.94 seconds, breaking his own world record.

9. Viktor Axelsen
Axelsen beat China’s Chen Long in the men’s singles final to win Olympic gold at the Tokyo Olympic Games. He then won the season-ending BWF World Tour Finals.

10. Lamont Marcell Jacobs
Jacobs was crowned as the world’s fastest man at the Tokyo Olympics in 9.80 seconds, becoming the first European sprinter to win the men’s 100m race since Barcelona 1992.