2023 Highlights: Six of Team USA’s best sporting moments of the year

Simone Biles, Coco Gauff and Lionel Messi are amongst athletes in the U.S. that made for an exciting year of sports. Here are some highlights.

The Paris 2024 Olympics are right around the corner and with 2023 coming to a close, Olympics.com reflects on some of Team USA’s top Olympic sporting moments of the year.

From Simone Biles’ comeback to gymnastics to Coco Gauff’s historic win at the US Open, it has been an eventful year for athletes in the U.S., who have stood on top of podiums around the world, as their flag was raised and anthem played.

Coco Gauff’s U.S. Open victory
19-year-old tennis player Coco Gauff made worldwide headlines as she became the first American teenager to win the US Open since the legendary Serena Williams did the same in 1999.

It was made all the more sweet, as the tournament that took place in August and September fell on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Sexes match in 1973 and marked the beginning of the fifth decade of equal prize money for males and females at the tournament. “Thank you Billie, for fighting for this,” Gauff said to Billie Jean King as she herself handed the 2023 champion the trophy.

Simone Biles’ comeback to gymnastics
Since her case of the twisties forced her to pull out of the team and all-around events at Tokyo 2020, it was unclear if gymnastics legend Simone Biles was going to return to the sport that she has been dominating for nearly a decade.

In typical Biles fashion, she came back on fire, already taking the all-around gold at World Championships, the U.S. Classic and U.S. National Championships. At World Championships, she even had her fifth skill entered into the code of points – a Yurchenko double pike on vault. She now has her sights set on Paris, for what will be her third Olympic Games, where she will attempt to add to her collection that already consists of four gold, one silver, and two bronze medals.

Lionel Messi signs with Inter Miami
Soccer legend Lionel Messi made a shocking move to the MLS as he joined Inter Miami FC and made colossal moves to pull the club out of the bottom ranks of the Eastern Conference.

Upon transfer, the Argentine instantly lived up to his expectations, scoring 11 goals across 12 games with five assists. The Inter-Miami stadium went from a sparse crowd to a full house littered with pink jerseys, nearly every game. He led the team to winning the Leagues Cup in August.

Messi may not hail from the USA but the impact he has made on US soccer makes it impossible to leave him off this list.

World Athletics Championships
It was a historic year for Team USA track and field in Budapest as Noah Lyles won the sprint double, Sha’carri Richardson took the 100m title and the men’s and women’s 4x100m relays swept the gold medals for the first time since 2007. Lyles was also the first American man to win the sprint double since Tyson Gay 16 years prior.

The United States dominated the medal table, taking 29 medals, including 12 golds ahead of second place Canada’s four.

Katie Ledecky’s record breaking golds
Michael Phelps is widely known as one of the greatest athletes of all time, but this year, Katie Ledecky overtook the superstar for the most world championship titles after taking her 16th gold at the 2023 World Aquatic Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. She also became the first-ever swimmer to win six consecutive world championships in the same event – the 800m freestyle.

Ledecky is preparing for her fourth Olympic Games, where she will attempt to add to her medal tally that already consists of seven golds and three silvers.

Jesse Grupper’s celebrated comeback
It might have been the comeback of the 2023 Pan American Games when American sport climber Jesse Grupper came back from a fourth place finish in the boulder section to dominate the lead wall and take it all in front of a huge Chilean crowd, who chanted his name as he descended from the peak.

His emotions were on display and the tears didn’t stop flowing once he planted his feet on the ground and waved to the crowd. After the scoreboard confirmed his win over three-time World Cup champion Sean Bailey, he jumped the barrier into the crowd to hug his family.