BUDAPEST (August 9) – Nafi Thiam, the world and Olympic heptathlon champion, has been ruled out of the 2023 World Athletics Championships due to an Achilles injury, leaving USA’s Anna Hall as the clear favorite for gold in Budapest later this month.
Thiam, ranked third on the world all-time list, has faced fitness struggles this season, failing to complete a full heptathlon competition. Despite the challenges, the Belgian athlete remained hopeful of defending her title and pursuing a third world crown, having previously triumphed in 2017 and 2022.
A statement released on Wednesday by her representative through the Royal Belgian Athletics League confirmed the 28-year-old’s withdrawal from the world championships.
“After careful consultations with her team, she has decided not to risk aggravation by competing in Budapest,” the statement read, adding, “Nafi is disappointed to skip a major championship but keeps a strong vision for her long-term goals and the Paris Olympic Games.”
Thiam secured her second world track and field heptathlon title in Oregon last summer, tallying 6,947 points in the seven-event competition.
Her personal best score of 7,013 points ranks only behind world record holder Jackie Joyner-Kersee (7291pts) and Carolina Klüft (7032pts).
The absence of the Belgian two-time Olympic champion shifts the spotlight to U.S. champion Anna Hall. Leading into the world championships with a season and personal best score of 6,988 points, Hall is now favored to win the gold medal.
Hall, a bronze medalist at the last championships behind Thiam and The Netherlands’ Anouk Vetter, is poised to capitalize on this opportunity.
The world track and field championships in Budapest will run between 19-27 August and the heptathlon takes place on the opening two days from 19-20 August.