INDIANAPOLIS — Olympic gold medalists Michelle Carter has been voted the 2016 Jackie Joyner-Kersee Athlete of the Year.
Carter, and Matthew Centrowitz, who was named the Jesse Owens Athletes of the Year, will be honored, along with the 2016 Youth Athlete of the Year, Masters Athlete of the Year, Nike Coach of the Year, and the Wing Award winners, at the 2016 Jesse Owens Banquet on Saturday, December 3 at the Hilton at Walt Disney World.
“I am so honored to be the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Athlete of the Year,” Carter said. “It has been the best year of my career. I could not do this alone, and I want to thank everyone for every single word of encouragement and all of the support over the years.”
Carter (Ovilla, Texas) had a banner year that saw her set the American record twice over, first at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon and again in Rio at the Olympic Games. Carter was clutch on the international stage in 2016, capturing her first global gold medal since IAAF World Juniors in 2004. Carter was in medal contention heading into the final round of throws in Portland, just behind Hungary’s Anita Marton who sat atop the leaderboard. Carter composed herself and threw an American record 20.21m/66-3.75 on her final attempt to capture gold.
“The 2016 season could not have started any better by winning my first world championship at home in Portland,” Carter recalled. “Knowing I was able to represent my country at home and win was great.
“Making my third Olympic Team was an accomplishment after recovering from an injury,” Carter continued. “I knew I had to bring my ‘A’ game to make the team.”
In Rio, it was much of the same, as Carter found herself sitting in silver position with one throw remaining. Carter launched her final attempt an astonishing 20.63m/67-8.25 to once again win gold in stunning fashion. Carter set yet another American record and now owns six of the top 10 best performances in U.S. history. The first American woman to win the Olympic shot put and the first USATF medalist in Rio, her Olympic teammates lauded their team captain for her performance and for inspiring them all. Carter’s clutch gold in Rio kicked off the best U.S. Olympic team medal haul in a non-boycotted Games since 1932.
“Being the first American (track & field athlete) to win gold in Rio meant so much to me because it showed the world that American women are a force to be reckoned with. It showed that hard work and consistency pays off when you don’t give up on yourself,” Carter finished.