For the 28th consecutive year, the United States Sports Academy will name an Athlete of the Year in conjunction with NBC Sports.
Sports fans from across the world will decide who the most outstanding male and female athletes were in 2012 through online voting on the Academy's website at www.ussa.edu. The ballot of 12 males and 12 females goes live at midnight Saturday, Dec. 1 and closes at midnight Friday, Dec. 21.
In 2011, the male Athlete of the Year was No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic of Serbia and the female Athlete of the Year was No. 1-ranked golfer Yani Tseng of Taiwan. Both of them dominated 2011's ballot that drew as many as 50,000 votes a day from across the world.
This year's ballot includes a mixture of athletes from 11 different countries representing a wide variety of popular sports. Their performances stood out and provided some of the best highlights and stories in sports during the past year.
In alphabetical order, the 12 men competing for the Academy's prestigious Athlete of the Year honor are: 1) Drew Brees. Football, United States; 2) Usain Bolt, Track and Field, Jamaica 3) Miguel Cabrera, Baseball, Venezuela; 4) J.R. Celski, Speedskating, United States; 5) Novak Djokovic, Tennis, Serbia; 6) Ashton Eaton, Track and Field, United States; 7) LeBron James, Basketball, United States; 8) Rory McIlroy, Golf, Ireland; 9) Lionel Messi, Soccer, Argentina; 10) Andy Murray, Tennis, Scotland; 11) Michael Phelps, Swimming, United States; and 12) Bradley Wiggins, Cycling, Great Britain.
In alphabetical order, the 12 women competing for the Academy's prestigious Athlete of the Year honor are: 1) Victoria Azarenka, Tennis, Belarus; 2) Tamika Catchings, Basketball, United States; 3) Gabby Douglas, Gymnastics, United States; 4) Jessica Ennis, Track and Field, Great Britain; 5) Allyson Felix, Track and Field, United States; 6) Missy Franklin, Swimming, United States; 7) Carmelita Jeter, Track and Field, United States; 8) Carolina Kostner, Figure Skating, Italy; 9) Jessica Korda, Golf, United States; 10) Yani Tseng, Golf, Taiwan; 11) Lindsey Vonn, Skiing, United States; and 12) Serena Williams, Tennis, United States.
The Athlete of the Year ballot is the culmination of the Academy's yearlong Athlete of the Month program, which recognizes the accomplishments of men and women in sports around the globe. Each month, the worldwide online votes along with the Academy's selection committee choose the male and female winners.
The Academy, in conjunction with NBC Sports, will announce the 2012 Male and Female Athletes of the Year on Christmas Day on Tuesday, Dec. 25.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service.
The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.