Top athletes: Who's the fairest of them all?

As the sporting year draws to a close, here is a selection of the world's top 10 athletes in 2022:

Chinese athlete Gu Ailing competes during the freestyle skiing women's freeski halfpipe final of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, north China's Hebei Province, Feb. 18, 2022. (Xinhua/Yang Shiyao)

1. Gu Ailing (China, freestyle skiing)

Gu claimed gold medals in women's big air and halfpipe and a silver in slopestyle at the Beijing Winter Olympics, becoming the first freestyle skier to win three medals in three different events at a single Winter Olympics.

Argentina's Lionel Messi kisses the trophy after winning the World Cup final soccer match between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. [AP Photo]
  1. Lionel Messi (Argentina, football)

Messi helped Argentina win the World Cup in Qatar after 36 years. With seven goals and three assists, Messi won the tournament's Golden Ball. He also became the most-capped player at the World Cup with 26 appearances.

Gold medalist Irene Schouten of the Netherlands poses for a photo during the awarding ceremony of the women's 3,000m speed skating event at the Beijing Medals Plaza of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 6, 2022. (Xinhua/Ju Huanzong)

  1. Irene Schouten (Netherlands, speed skating)

Dutch skater Schouten claimed gold medals in the women's 3,000m, 5,000m and mass start events at the Beijing Winter Olympics and also took a bronze in the team pursuit with her teammates. In March, Schouten won the Allround title at the World Speed Skating Championships in Hamar, Norway.

Gold medalist of the men's race, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, celebrates after the Berlin Marathon 2022 in Berlin, capital of Germany, Sept. 25, 2022. (Xinhua/Ren Pengfei)
  1. Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya, athletics)

38-year-old Kipchoge claimed the 48th Berlin Marathon title with a new world record of two hours, one minute and nine seconds, breaking his own record from 2018 by 30 seconds.

Sweden's Armand Duplantis competes during the men's pole vault final at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 in Eugene, Oregon, the United States, July 24, 2022. (Xinhua/Wu Xiaoling)

  1. Armand Duplantis (Sweden, athletics)

Duplantis broke men's pole vault world record three times in the 2022 season, winning 18 of the 19 competitions he competed in and clearing six metres 23 times. He refreshed the world record with 6.21 meters at the World Athletics Championships in July.

Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema poses with the men's Ballon d'Or Trophy during the 2022 Ballon d'Or France Football award ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France, Oct. 17, 2022. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)

  1. Karim Benzema (France, football)

Benzema claimed the 2022 Ballon d'Or after a dazzling season with Real Madrid, which saw the Spanish giants win both La Liga and the UEFA Champions League. He also became the top scorer in both domestic and continental tournaments.

Rafael Nadal of Spain poses with his trophy after winning the men's singles final match against Casper Ruud of Norway at the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, June 5, 2022. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)
  1. Rafael Nadal (Spain, tennis)

Nadal won his 14th French Open title, making him the first player in the Open era to win 22 Grand Slam men's titles.

Katie Ledecky of the United States celebrates after the women's 1500m freestyle final at the 19th FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, June 20, 2022. (Xinhua/Li Ying)

  1. Katie Ledecky (United States, swimming)

Ledecky won women's 800m freestyle at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, to take the fifth consecutive title in the event. In this tournament, the 25-year-old clinched four gold medals to take her world championships gold medal tally to 19. Ledecky also broke the women's short-course world record in the 1,500m and 800m freestyle at the FINA World Cup.

Iga Swiatek competes during the women's singles final against Ons Jabeur of Tunisia at the 2022 U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, the United States, on Sept. 10, 2022. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)
  1. Iga Swiatek (Poland, tennis)

Swiatek won eight titles including the French Open and US Open in 2022 and set the record for the longest 37 winning streak in women's tennis in the 21st century. The 21-year-old finished the season as No.1 in the WTA year-end singles rankings.

Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen celebrates after winning the 2022 Formula One Mexico Grand Prix at the Hermanos Rodriguez Circuit in Mexico City, Mexico, on Oct. 30, 2022. (Xinhua/Xin Yuewei)

  1. Max Verstappen (Netherlands, Formula One)

Red Bull's Verstappen won the F1 Japanese Grand Prix to seal the 2022 F1 Drivers' World Championship title ahead of schedule. He then took a record 14th win in a single Formula 1 season with victory in the Mexico City Grand Prix, surpassing Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel's joint record of 13. With his win in the Abu Dhabi finale, Verstappen's single-season winning record was finally set at 15. 

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