The United States Olympic Committee today announced its annual award recipients for Olympic and Paralympic athletes and teams of the year. Sprinter Allyson Felix (Los Angeles, Calif.) has been named the USOC SportsWoman of the Year; swimmer Michael Phelps (Baltimore, Md.) was selected SportsMan of the Year; the U.S. women’s eight rowing team was honored as Olympic Team of the Year; S8 swimmer Jessica Long (Colorado Springs, Colo.) was named Paralympic SportsWoman of the Year; T52 wheelchair racer Raymond Martin (Jersey City, N.J.) was named Paralympic SportsMan of the Year; and the U.S. men’s quad doubles tennis team was designated Paralympic Team of the Year.
“We are so proud to honor these young men and women who represent the finest ambassadors of sport, Team USA and the Olympic Movement,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “Through their commitment to excellence on and off the field, these athletes represent our country with incredible grace and composure, and their outstanding achievements are an inspiration to all Americans.”
The six awards will be presented at a celebratory dinner during the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Assembly held Sept. 20-21 at the Antlers Hilton Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Allyson Felix, Olympic SportsWoman of the Year
U.S. track & field standout Allyson Felix made history during her third Olympic appearance by collecting three gold medals and becoming the first woman to accomplish the feat since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988. Felix claimed her first gold of the London Games in the 200 meters and, two days later, ran the second leg of the world-record setting 4x100 relay team. She closed the Games with the gold medal in the 4x400 relay. A three-time Olympic medalist in the 200, Felix claimed top honors in her signature event at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, breaking Griffith-Joyner’s 24-year-old record with a time of 21.69 seconds – the fourth-fastest by a woman in history. The three-time Jesse Owens Award winner became the first American woman to win national titles in all three sprint events at the 2011 U.S. Outdoor Championships. She completed her stellar 2011 campaign by winning four medals at the 2011 World Championships, tying Carl Lewis for 10 career medals in the event.
Michael Phelps, Olympic SportsMan of the Year
During the recently completed 2012 Olympic Games, Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian in history with 22 medals, including 18 golds. At the London Games, Phelps capped his illustrious career with four gold medals – including individual titles in the 200-meter individual medley and 100 butterfly and relay wins in the 4x200 freestyle and 4x100 medley. He also added silver medals in the 200 butterfly and the 4x100 freestyle relay. It was a fitting exclamation point to Phelps’ career that spanned four Olympic Games. Phelps concluded the 2012 Games as the most successful swimmer of the meet for a third consecutive time. In his final season, Phelps also earned the 2011-12 USA Swimming Grand Prix Series title and collected seven medals at the 2012 FINA World Championships.
U.S. Women’s Eight, Olympic Team of the Year
With a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games, the women’s eight – Erin Cafaro (Modesto, Calif.), Caryn Davies (Ithaca, N.Y.), Susan Francia (Abington, Pa.), Caroline Lind (Greensboro, N.C.), Esther Lofgren (Newport Beach, Calif.), Eleanor Logan (Boothbay Harbor, Maine), Meghan Musnicki (Naples, N.Y.), Taylor Ritzel (Larkspur, Colo.) and Mary Whipple (Orangevale, Calif.) – continued its historic run that includes seven straight world championships and three consecutive Olympic medals. The U.S. defended the gold in London, finishing the course in 6:10.59, nearly two seconds ahead of the field. It was a fitting culmination to a year that saw the U.S. fortify its championship dynasty on the world stage. The team set the course record at the 2011 Henley Royal Regatta to claim the Remenham Challenge Cup and won gold at the 2011 World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland. At the 2012 World Cup, the team set a world record in its defeat over Canada. The women’s eight continued its winning tradition with a gold-medal finish at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Slovenia to qualify for London. All nine athletes in the boat are ranked among the top 16 most-medaled female athletes in U.S. history at the world championship and Olympic levels.
Jessica Long, Paralympic SportsWoman of the Year
U.S. Paralympic swimming standout Jessica Long collected eight medals at the 2012 Paralympic Games to tie for the most of any athlete and bring her total Paralympic medal count to 17. The 20-year-old grabbed gold in five events, including the 100-meter butterfly, 400 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle. She also claimed silver in the 100 backstroke and the 4x100 freestyle, and bronze in the 4x100 medley. Long lowered her world-record times in the 100 and 400 freestyle and has won both events at three consecutive Paralympic Games. She punched her ticket to London after winning seven events and breaking five world records at the 2012 U.S Paralympic Trails. She returned to the international stage with high hopes in London after capturing nine gold medals and four world records at the 2011 Pan-Pacific Para Swimming Championships. Swimming World Magazine named Long Disabled Swimmer of the Year in 2011, and in 2012, she won her second ESPY Award for Best Female Athlete with a Disability.
Raymond Martin, Paralympic SportsMan of the Year
In his first Paralympic Games, 18-year-old Raymond Martin struck nothing but gold, winning every event he entered in London. Competing in the T52 class, Martin secured Team USA’s first track & field gold of the Games after winning the 100 meters. He then cruised to victory in the 400, before securing the top podium spot in the 800. The 200-meter world-record holder completed his sweep of the sprint events, posting a time of 30.25 seconds in his premier event. Martin entered the Games with high expectations after taking top honors in the 200, 400 and 800 meters at the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Trials, where he set a world record and an American record in the 200 and 800. Martin’s 2011-12 campaign was also highlighted by four medals – including two golds and two silvers – at the 2011 Parapan American Games, followed by a record-shattering performance at the Swiss Series, where he set national records in the 200 and 400.
U.S. Men’s Quad Doubles, Paralympic Team of the Year
The U.S. men’s quad doubles tennis team of Nick Taylor (Wichita, Kan.) and David Wagner (Hillsboro, Ore.) captured its third consecutive gold medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The winning duo, which has dominated the field since quad doubles was introduced at the 2004 Paralympic Games, outlasted favorite Great Britain, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, to defend its title. Taylor and Wagner opened the 2011-12 campaign by aiding the U.S. to its seventh world team cup championship last May. Four months later, the duo combined to win its seventh grand slam doubles title at the 2011 U.S. Open. Prior to the Games, the pair finished third at the 2012 World Team Cup. In addition to winning doubles gold at the London Games, Taylor and Wagner each medaled in the individual competition, withWagner claiming silver and bringing his total medal count to five, and Taylor earning bronze to improve his medal count to four overall.
ABOUT THE AWARDS
The USOC SportsMan and SportsWoman of the Year awards have been presented annually to the top overall male and female athletes from USOC member organizations since 1974. In 1996, a team category was added to recognize the outstanding achievements of team members who might not otherwise have been eligible for individual awards. The Paralympian of the Year award was introduced in 2004, and the category was expanded to the Paralympic SportsWoman, SportsMan and Team of the Year awards in 2009. Winners are selected from the female, male and team of the year nominations of the National Governing Bodies for the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games sports, as well as select, designated entities within the U.S. Olympic Movement. For more information, visit www.usoc.org