USOC names Sportsman, Sportswoman, Team of the Year awards
Swimmer Katie Ledecky, Alpine skier Ted Ligety and tennis players Bob and Mike Bryan were named the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Athletes of the Year on Thursday.
Ledecky, a high school junior, won four gold medals at the World Swimming Championships in Barcelona in August, sweeping the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle a year after she won the Olympic 800m free.
She broke world records in the 800m and the 1500m and added a fourth gold as part of the 4x200m free relay.
Ledecky and Ryan Lochte will lead the U.S. swim team at the Duel in the Pool, a Ryder Cup-like meet pitting the U.S. against European All-Stars, on her break between semesters at (Bethesda, Md.) Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart.
Ledecky is first swimmer to win Sportswoman of the Year since Natalie Coughlin, who shared the award with Nastia Liukin in 2008. Lindsey Vonn won in 2009 and 2010, and Allyson Felix won for 2011-12.
In February, Ligety became the first man in 45 years to win at least three gold medals at the World Alpine Skiing Championships in Schladming, Austria. Ligety won the super-G, giant slalom and the super combined one year before the Sochi Olympics.
Ligety, 29, also won his fourth World Cup season title in the giant slalom and finished a career-high third in the overall standings behind Marcel Hirscher of Austria and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway.
Ligety is the first Alpine skier to win Sportsman of the Year. Recent winners include Michael Phelps (2008, 2011-12), Todd Lodwick (2009) and Evan Lysacek (2010).
The Bryan brothers won team of the year after completing the “Bryan Slam,” holding all four men’s doubles tennis majors (and an Olympic gold medal) at the same time following their 15th career major title at Wimbledon in July.
The Bryans were upset in the U.S. Open semifinals, two wins away from becoming the first doubled team to win a calendar-year Grand Slam since 1951. The twins, 35, also clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking in August, the earliest that’s ever been done.
Three-time Olympians, they went from quarterfinalists in 2004 to bronze in 2008 to gold in 2012. Mike won another bronze in mixed doubles in 2012.
The Bryan brothers are the third tennis winners of a USOC Athlete of the Year award, joining Pete Sampras (1997) and Jennifer Capriati (2001). Steve Holcomb‘s four-man bobsled team won the Team of the Year in 2009 and 2010, and the U.S. Women’s Eights Rowing Team won it for 2011-12.
The Paralympic awards were earned by wheelchair racer Raymond Martin, handcyclist Monica Bascio and the 4x100m track and field relay team.