Lionel Messi, Inter Miami
Lionel Messi presents his 8th Ballon d'Or in front of Inter Miami fans Via @InterMiamiCF on X/Twitter

ALABAMA - Among athletes from all sorts of backgrounds and nationalities, Latinos kept on making the region proud with their incredible work ethic and talent. At The Latin Times, we have selected five of the Latinos that were among those who shined the brightest this year.

Yulimar Rojas – Venezuela

For the second time in her career, the Venezuelan athlete was named Women's World Athlete of the Year for Field Events.

She finished 2023 with a fourth straight title in the triple jump championships, which took place in Budapest. Staying true to her competitive nature, she rallied from behind in her last attempt at this year's championships to win the event. Since 2017, Rojas has won every single major event she has competed at, including the gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Yulimar Rojas wins the triple jump gold medl at the 2020 Summer Olympics, in Tokyo, Japan. (Via the Olympics official YouTube channel)

The Venezuelan athlete became just the 4th different woman to be named Women's World Athlete of the Year in multiple occasions and the first one since American Sanya Richards in 2009.

Rojas also collected one of the few prizes she had missed in her illustrious career: the gold medal at this year's Central American and Caribbean Games in El Salvador. It was in San Salvador where Rojas secured a place in the 2024 Summer Olympics, in Paris.

Although she did not defend her Pan American gold medal at Santiago 2023, she added a third Diamond League title after the world championships in Budapest.

The "Queen of the Triple Jump" will defend her crown at next year's Olympics and will try to add another gold medal to her long list of achievements. She remains the only woman from Venezuela to win a gold medal at the Summer Olympics.

Yulimar Rojas visiting her native city of Pozuelos, Anzoátegui, in Venezuela.

Sergio "Checo" Pérez – Mexico

"Checo" Pérez has become one of the big stars in Formula 1 since signing for Red Bull in 2021, amassing the most points by any Mexican racer in the history of F1.

The Mexican Formula 1 driver had his best season yet at the top circuit, finishing in 2nd place in the World Drivers' Championship standings. Not only did he have a personal best, but he also helped Red Bull win the Constructors' Championship for the second year in a row.

He got a podium finish in 9 races this year. Only his teammate Max Verstappen (19) won more races than him this season (2).

'Checo' reached another big milestone during the 2023 season, cracking the top 10 for most races competed in Formula 1 history. His 268 starts in F1 have delivered a total of 35 podiums, including 6 checkered flags (5 of them since signing for Red Bull).

Team members of Oracle Red Bull Racing share their thoughts on why "everyone loves 'Checo' Pérez"

Ronald Acuña Jr. – Venezuela

A historic MLB season for the Atlanta Braves outfielder finished with his first -and unanimous- National League MVP.

He led the majors in hits, runs, on-base percentage and bases stolen. In fact, before Acuña's historic 2023 season, no player in MLB history had stolen more than 46 bases in the same season in which they hit at least 40 HR. The Venezuelan finished the season with 41 homers and 70 stolen bases.

"La Bestia" had an outstanding 2023 campaign, having career bests in a bunch of departments, also helping the Braves to another 100-win season as well as grabbing his 4th All-Star appearance. His NL MVP award came with a total of 30 1st-place votes, making him the 8th different player in the history of the NL to win the award unanimously. No one had accomplished such feat since Bryce Harper did so during the 2015 campaign.

Acuña became just the 3rd player of Latino descent to be named unanimously as the NL MVP after Orlando Cepeda (1967) and Albert Pujols (2009). The former St. Louis Cardinal sat down with "La Bestia" at the end of the season to chat about his historic 2023 run.

Albert Pujols chats with Ronald Acuña Jr. about baseball and his 2023 season (Via MLB's official YouTube channel)

Lionel Messi – Argentina

What else can be said about Lionel Messi? He just can't stop rewriting history. Almost one year after securing his first World Cup, Messi won his record 8th Ballon d'Or award earlier this year.

Lionel Messi, Inter Miami
Lionel Messi presents his 8th Ballon d'Or in front of Inter Miami fans Via @InterMiamiCF on X/Twitter

A move to MLS side Inter Miami saw Messi break the internet. Thousands of jerseys were sold within minutes, demand for tickets rose to an all-time high everyone from celebrities to non-soccer fans swarmed the Inter Miami stadium just to see their new No.10.

Besides being a successful year in the business side of things for MLS, it was also a successful year for Messi inside the field, as he managed to help Inter Miami win the Leagues Cup and obtain a spot in next year's CONCACAF Champions Cup.

Messi added another "first" to his long list of accomplishments as TIME magazine named him Athlete of the Year.

Linda Caicedo – Colombia

Linda Caicedo's story is, perhaps, the most inspirational out of everyone else in this list. The 18-year-old sensation helped her country reach the Quarterfinals -for the first time ever- in this year's FIFA Women's World Cup.

After making her professional debut at just 14-years old, Caicedo lit up the Colombian league and finished the season as the leading scorer for América de Cali. At 15, Caicedo was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Caicedo overcame the disease and became cancer free by 2021. After making a return to the soccer fields, she helped Deportivo Cali win the Colombian league and that granted her a move to Real Madrid's women's team.

Her heroics went viral as the whole world watched her dominate the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, scoring two goals including one against Germany in Colombia's 1-0 victory, one of the biggest upsets in the history of the women's game.

That goal against Germany was so good that it earned Caicedo a nomination for the 2023 FIFA Puskas Award, an award that recognizes the best goals scored that year.

Linda Caicedo scores vs Germany in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup (Via FIFA's official YouTube channel)

She did not stop there, as accolades kept on coming her way also winning the 2023 Golden Girl Award, who recognizes that year's best player under the age of 21 playing in an European country's top division.

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