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 4×100 relay team. She closed the Games with the gold medal in the 4×400 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.
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 4×100 freestyle, and bronze in the 4×100 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.
The United States Olympic Committee 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 were 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.
Story courtesy of teamusa.org
Jessica Long photo credit twitter.com/JessicaLong