INDIANAPOLIS - Jesse Williams and Carmelita Jeter on Tuesday were named the winners of the 2011 Jesse Owens Award by USA Track & Field. This is a first time either athlete has earned this prestigious distinction during their storied careers.
“USA Track & Field is proud to recognize Carmelita and Jesse for their successful seasons with the highest honor in our sport – the Jesse Owens Award,” said USATF Interim CEO Mike McNees. “As we approach the Olympic year, we are excited to see what Carmelita, Jesse and all of our great athletes will be able to accomplish in London.”
This year's awards will be presented on Saturday, December 3 at the Jesse Owens Hall of Fame Banquet. The event is held in conjunction with USA Track & Field's 2011 Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri.
Williams Wins it All
Williams (Eugene, Ore.) racked up championship wins in the best year yet of his career. Williams excelled all year long from his USA Indoor title in February to his World Championships win in September. Along the way, Williams had the best performance of the year at the USA Outdoor Championships on his home track in Eugene. Williams leaped to a personal best and world leading mark of 2.37m/7-9.25.
At the World Championships, Williams brought American high jumping back to the spotlight by winning the first American medal in the event since Charles Austin and teammate Hollis Conway collected gold and bronze medals at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo.
Williams also claimed the Diamond League title in a narrow win over the reigning Olympic Champion, Andrey Silnov of Russia.
In the 31 year history of the Jesse Owens Award, Williams is only high jumper to ever win this honor.
Jeter Dominantes Sprints
Jeter (Gardena, Calif.) had the season of her life with a nearly perfect record in the 100m on her way to winning three World Championships medals in Daegu.
Jeter set the tone for her season by running away from the field at the Prefontaine Classic in a world leading time of 10.70. Jeter’s performance at the Prefontaine Classic was untouched for the rest of the season and garnered her the win of the Outdoor Visa Championship Series.
At the USA Championships, she not only won the 100m, but also picked-up runner-up honors in the 200m.
Throughout the course of the season, Jeter won in Daegu, Stockholm, London, Brussels, Monaco and Zurich to win the Diamond League title in both the 100m and 200m.
Jeter doubled her tally of World Championships medals won during her career, bringing her count to six. In the span of a week, Jeter won a world title in the 100m, took silver in the 200m and lead Team USA to gold as the anchor of the women’s 4x100m team.
About the Jesse Owens Award
Established in 1981, the Jesse Owens Award is USA Track & Field's highest accolade, presented annually to the outstanding U.S. male and female track and field performers. The Award is named after National Track & Field Hall of Famer and worldwide track and field icon Jesse Owens, who won gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany, while at all times conducting himself with grace and dignity. With his remarkable performances, Owens forever destroyed Adolf Hitler's notions of Aryan supremacy.
The 2011 Jesse Owens Award winners were selected in balloting of members of the U.S. track and field media, and a fan vote was held on the USATF website that comprised 10% of the total vote. More than 22,000 fan votes were received. Other men’s finalists included Walter Dix, Ashton Eaton, Ryan Hall, Trey Hardee, Bernard Lagat, Dwight Phillips, Jason Richardson, Galen Rupp and Christian Taylor. Finalists for the women’s award were Jillian Camarena-Williams, Desiree Davila, Lashinda Demus, Allyson Felix, Brittney Reese, Jenny Simpson and Morgan Uceny.
The permanent commemorative Jesse Owens Award is maintained at USATF National Headquarters, and a replica is provided to each of the winners. Previous winners may be viewed here.