Texas Rangers’ slugger Josh Hamilton, who became only the 16th major league baseball player to hit four home runs in a game, and American sprinter Carmelita Jeter, who ran the world’s fastest time this season in the 100 meters at 10.81 seconds, were chosen as the United States Sports Academy’s May Athletes of the Month.
Hamilton turned in a huge month that included the four-homer performance May 8 at Baltimore. In that game, the centerfielder also added a double to set the American League record for most total bases in one game with 18. He hit safely in the first 13 games of May as part of a 16-game hitting streak. For the month in 25 games, Hamilton led the majors with 12 home runs, 32 runs batted in and a .781 slugging percentage. In addition, he batted .344 and had a .405 on base percentage.
Meanwhile, Jeter continues to reign as the fastest woman on the planet. She broke her meet record of 10.86 seconds in the 100 meters by .05 seconds at the JN Jamaica Invitational IAAF World Challenge meet. Her dominance continued in the 100 meters in the IAAF World Challenge in Daegu, South Korea (11.11 seconds) and the Cayman Invitational (11.04 seconds). The 32-year-old Jeter currently holds the second fastest time ever run in the women’s event and three of the top 10 fastest times.
The public is invited to participate in the worldwide Athlete of the Month nomination and ballot voting processes. Visit the Academy website at www.ussa.edu to submit your nominations each month, and then return to the website between the first day and second Tuesday of each month to vote on the male and female Athletes of the Month. The votes along with the Academy’s selection committee choose the winners and they are announced on the Academy’s website and in the online edition of The Sport Update.
Finishing second in the men’s category was Didier Drogba, a soccer star from the Ivory Coast. The Chelsea striker led his team’s unlikely comeback victory in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich on May 19. Drogba scored the tying goal with two minutes to go in the game and then added the winner on the final penalty kick of the 4-3 shootout. Drogba soared high from a corner to head home the equalizer at 1-1 and then in extra time, the 34-year-old slid home the winner to give Chelsea its first Champions League title.
The runner-up to Jeter on the women’s ballot was University of Oklahoma ace Keilani Ricketts, who was named the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year by the Amateur Softball Association. Ricketts earned the honor by leading the Sooners both in pitching and hitting. The junior pitcher, who led her team to the Women’s College World Series finals where Oklahoma finished second to Alabama, posted a 37-9 record with 457 strikeouts and an earned run average of 1.08. At the plate, Ricketts hit for a .395 average and had 17 home runs and 49 runs batted in.
Third place winners for May were Miami Heat forward LeBron James, who earned the National Basketball Association’s Most Valuable Player award for the third time in four seasons, and Irish boxing superstar Katie Taylor, who won her fourth consecutive World Championship gold medal in the lightweight division at the 2012 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships.
The winners of the Academy’s male and female Athletes of the Month will be considered as candidates for the 2012 Athlete of the Year ballot. In December 2012, the Academy will name the male and female Athlete of the Year for the 28th consecutive year. The recipients of this prestigious award are selected annually through worldwide online balloting hosted by the Academy in conjunction with USA Today and NBC Sports.
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.