Novak Djokovic and Simone Biles named AIPS Champions of the Year. GETTY IMAGES

US gymnastics star Simone Biles and Serbian tennis world number one Novak Djokovic have been named AIPS Athletes of the Year for the 2023 edition. This is the result of a poll by the AIPS, in which a panel of 405 journalists from 107 countries voted.

The decorated gymnast has had an unforgettable 2023 and came in first place with a total of 353 votes. Kenyan middle-distance runner Faith Kipyegon came second with 329 votes, while Spanish footballer Aitana Bonmati was third with 297 votes. 

The Serbian star, who has established himself as one of the most prominent champions of all time in tennis and all sports, topped this year's edition with a total of 616 points. Swedish pole vaulter Armand Duplantis came second with 335 points, while Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi finished third with 277 points.

The female champion

In 2023, Simone Arianne Biles, born on 14 March 1997 in Columbus, Ohio, became the world's most decorated gymnast, male or female. Her triumphant return to competition after a two-year hiatus cemented her status as the greatest of all time in the sport she began at the age of six. Her most significant medals to date are seven Olympic medals - four gold, one silver, two bronze; and 30 World Championship medals - 23 gold, four silver, three bronze. 

The now 26-year-old American announced her comeback in June 2023 and dominated the all-around at the 2023 US Classic gymnastics competition in early August. It was her first competition since withdrawing from the women's team final and four subsequent individual finals at the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021, to prioritise her mental health as she dealt with a case of "twisties" - what gymnasts describe as a kind of mental block that causes a person to lose their sense of space and dimension while in the air. 

Biles returned with a big performance after nearly three years out. GETTY IMAGES
Biles returned with a big performance after nearly three years out. GETTY IMAGES

A historic eighth individual all-around title at the 2023 US Championships in late August followed as the seven-time Olympic medallist continued to deliver breathtaking performances. She then claimed a sixth world all-around title in Antwerp, Belgium, in October, to add to her floor exercise, balance beam and team gold medals. 

Antwerp proved the perfect stage for the feat. Biles made her global debut in the same city in 2013, winning four medals including her first all-around gold. She's now the only gymnast to win world all-around titles a decade apart. 

In 2016, Biles became the first gymnast (female or male) to be voted as AIPS Best Athlete of the Year. She took a sabbatical in 2017 and returned to win the award again back-to-back in 2018 and 2019.

AIPS Best Female Athlete of 2023:

1. Simone Biles (gymnastics, United States): 353 votes (9,68%).

2. Faith Kipyegon (athletics, Kenya): 329 votes (9,03%).

3. Aitana Bonmati (football, Spain): 297 votes (8,15%).

4. Mikaela Shiffrin (skiing, Unites States): 256 votes (7,02%).

5. Tigst Assefa (athletics, Ethiopia): 237 votes (6,50%).

6. Iga Swiatek (tennis, Poland): 203 votes (5,57%).

7. Femke Bol (athletics, Netherlands): 190 votes (5,21%).

8. Yulimar Rojas (athletics, Venezuela): 176 votes (4,83%).

9. Alexia Putellas (football, Spain): 158 votes (4,33%).

10. Katie Ledecky (swimming, United States): 135 votes (3,70%).

The male Champion:

Novak Djokovic, born on 22 May 1987 in Belgrade, Serbia, has described his 2023 season as "one of the best, I wouldn't say the best, but one of the best". As he reflects on how 2023 stacks up against some of the greatest seasons of his career, after achieving a record-extending eighth year-end No. 1 ranking in the men's singles world. 

The Serb played just 12 tournaments that year, including the ATP Finals, but won six of them, including three Grand Slams, to make 2023 one of the most memorable years of his career. 

Djokovic completed incredible 2023 with three 'Grand Slams'. GETTY IMAGES
Djokovic completed incredible 2023 with three 'Grand Slams'. GETTY IMAGES

He beat Denmark's Holger Rune in his opening match at the Nitto ATP Finals to finish the year as world number one. "Nole" won three of the year's four Grand Slam titles and played in the final of the fourth; he was on a 19-match winning streak that was broken by Jannik Sinner in a thrilling match at the ATP Finals.

AIPS Best Male Athlete of 2023:

1. Novak Djokovic (tennis, Serbia): 616 votes (16,90%).

2. Armand Duplantis (athletics, Sweden): 335 votes (9,19%).

3. Leo Messi (football, Argentina): 277 votes (7,60%).

4. Erling Haaland (football, Norway): 229 votes (6,28%).

5. Max Verstappen (motor, Netherlands): 212 votes (5,82%).

6. Carlos Alcaraz (tennis, Spain): 184 votes (5,05%).

7. Hubert Kos (swimming, Hungary): 129 votes (3,54%).

8. Soufiane El Bakkali (athletics, Morocco): 119 votes (3,26%).

9. Nikola Jokic (basketball, Serbia): 115 votes (3,16%).

10. Kylian Mbappé (football, France): 96 votes (2,63%).