by Carla O’Connell – U.S. Olympic Committee
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. (March 18, 2004) – Cyclist Lance Armstrong, figure skater Michelle Kwan and the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team have been voted the 2003 United States Olympic Committee SportsMan, SportsWoman and Team of the Year, respectively.
The U.S. Women’s National Team enjoyed an undefeated season in 2003, overcoming substantial odds at times to win gold at every opportunity. At the Pacific Challenge, a split U.S. National Team finished 1-2 against national squads from Canada and Australia, and U.S. athletes also captured places 1-12 and 14 in the all-around standings. The Pan American Games Team won team gold, gold and silver in the all-around, plus gold and bronze on bars, beam and floor, and silver on vault for a total of 10 medals. The highlight of the year came at the World Championships, where a highly-regarded U.S. team lost four world medalists to injury or illness in the days leading up to the competition, yet relying on the depth of the program and skills of three 15-year-olds, pulled out an historic first-ever World Championships team gold medal by nearly two points. Additionally, squad members finished with a silver medal in the all-around and enjoyed a two-way U.S. tie for gold on the uneven bars.
Team members were Courtney Kupets (Gaithersburg, Md.), Tasha Schwikert (Las Vegas, Nev.), Hollie Vise (Dallas, Texas), Ashley Postell (Cheverly, Md.), Annia Hatch (West Haven, Conn.), Terin Humphrey (Bates City, Mo.), Chellsie Memmel (West Allis, Wis.), Carly Patterson (Baton Rouge, La.), Nastia Liukin (Plano, Texas), Allyse Ishino (Santa Ana, Calif.), Marcia Newby (Virginia Beach, Va.), Courtney McCool (Kansas City, Mo.), Tia Orlando (Souderton, Pa.), Tabitha Yim (Irvine, Calif.), Liz Tricase (Itasca, Ill.), Nicole Harris (Allentown, Pa.), Katie Heenan (South Riding, Va.), Kristina Comforte (Burr Ridge, Ill.), Alicia Sacramone (Winchester, Mass.), Sarah Shire (Sweet Springs, Mo.), Nina Kim (Plano, Texas), Susan Jackson (Spring, Texas), Corey Hartung (Gaithersburg, Md.), Samantha Sheehan (Villa Hills, Ky.), and Melanie Sinclair (Orlando, Fla.).
For the second consecutive year the top awards go to athletes from the sports of cycling and figure skating. In 2002, Armstrong and Sarah Hughes (Great Neck, N.Y.) received the trophies. Last year’s team title went to the women’s boblsed duo of Jill Bakken (Park City, Utah) and Vonetta Flowers (Hoover, Ala.)
Armstrong (Austin, Texas), who was also honored by the USOC as its 1999 and 2001SportsMan of the Year, becomes the first athlete to be selected four times for the award. The cyclist won a record-tying fifth consecutive Tour de France in 2003.
Kwan (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) is the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history. Her accomplishments in 2003 included a first-place finish at the State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships (her sixth consecutive and seventh overall National title), first at the World Figure Skating Championships (her fifth World title), first at the ABC Sports International Challenge, second at the Campbell’s Classic, and first at the International Figure Skating Challenge.
In a very close vote, swimmer Michael Phelps (Baltimore, Md.) was runner-up in the SportsMan of the Year voting. Other top finishers were gymnast Paul Hamm (Waukesha, Wis.), skier Bode Miller (Franconia, N.H.) and speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno (Seattle, Wash.).
Tennis player Serena Williams (Palm Springs Gardens, Fla.), speedskater Jennifer Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.), gymnast Chellsie Memmel (West Allis, Wis.) and hockey’s Angela Ruggiero (Harper Woods, Mich.) followed Kwan in the SportsWoman of the Year balloting.
Joining the gymnasts as top vote-getters in the Team of the Year category were USA Softball’s Women’s National Team (Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.), Lovieanne Jung (Fountain Valley, Calif.), Nicole Giordano (Saugus, Calif.), Crystl Bustos (Canyon Country, Calif.), Amanda Freed (Cypress, Calif.), Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas), Nina Linden-berg (Anaheim Hills, Calif.), Tairia Mims (Tucson, Ariz.), Keira Goerl, (Moreno Valley, Calif.), Lisa Fernandez (Long Beach, Calif.), Leah O’Brien-Amico (Chino Hills, Calif.), Lori Harrigan (Las Vegas, Nev.), Jaime Clark (Tustin, Calif.), Jennie Finch (La Mirada, Calif.), Natasha Watley (Irvine, Calif.), Jenny Topping (Whittier, Calif.), Stacey Nuveman (La Verne, Calif.), Laura Berg (Santa Fe Springs, Calif.)); USA Volleyball’s beach duo of Misty May (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Kerri Walsh (Saratoga, Calif.); the U.S. Women’s Water Polo Team (Robin Beauregard (Huntington Beach, Calif.), Gabbie Domanic (Santa Ana, Calif.), Ellen Estes (Novato, Calif.), Jackie Frank (Long Beach, Calif.), Natalie Golda (La Habra, Calif.), Erika Lorenz (San Diego, Calif.), Heather Moody (Green River, Wyo.), Thalia Munro (Santa Barbara, Calif.), Nicolle Payne (Cerritos, Calif.), Heather Petri (Orinda, Calif.), Amber Stachowski (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.), Brenda Villa (Commerce, Calif.), Margie Dingeldein (Merced, Calif.)); women’s wrestling U.S. World Cup Team (Patricia Miranda (Saratoga, Calif.), Jenny Wong (Woodbury, Minn.), Tina George (Cleveland Heights, Ohio), Sally Roberts (Federal Way, Wash.), Sara McMann (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Kristie Marano (Albany, N.Y.), Toccara Montgomery (Cleveland, Ohio)); and the USA Basketball World Championship for Young Women Team (Seimone Augustus (Baton Rouge, La.), Alana Beard (Shreveport, La.), Temeka Johnson (Kenner, La.), Kristen Mann (Santa Ana, Calif.), Caity Matter (Bluffton, Ohio), Nicole Ohlde (Clay Center, Kan.), Shawntinice Polk (Hanford, Calif.), Cappie Pondexter (Chicago, Ill.), Christi Thomas (Buford, Ga.), Kendra Wecker (Marysville, Kan.), Lindsay Whalen (Hutchinson, Minn.), Tanisha Wright (West Mifflin, Pa.)).
The USOC SportsMan and SportsWoman of the Year awards have been presented annually since 1974 to the top overall male and female athlete from within the USOC member organizations. The team award was added in 1996. Voters for the awards include national media, the USOC Board of Directors and the USOC Athletes’ Advisory Council. Winners are selected from the individual female and male Athlete of the Year and Team of the Year nominations of the National Governing Bodies for the Olympic, Pan American, Affiliated and Disabled Sports Organizations within the U.S. Olympic Movement.
For more information, please contact the USOC Media and Public Relations Division (719/866-4529). This release also is available on the USOC’s public web site (www.usolympicteam.com).