Boxer Manny Pacquiao (left) and Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbaeva
Boxer Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines and Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbaeva were honored as the United States Sports Academy’s 2009 Male and Female Athletes of the Year.
More than 1.9 million votes were cast from throughout the world through the websites of NBC Sports and USA Today. The international spirit of the Academy ballot was truly reflected in the results, as the top three finishers on the men’s and women’s side were not from the United States.
Pacquiao won two titles in 2009, becoming the first boxer to win titles in seven different weight classes. Isinbaeva finished the year with the indoor and outdoor pole vault world records, including becoming the first woman to clear 16 feet indoors. As the top vote-getter, Pacquiao was also the Overall Athlete of the Year.
Finishing second in the men’s balloting was Swiss tennis star Roger Federer, who completed the career Grand Slam and also won a record 15th Grand Slam title. Taking third was Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who lowered his world-record times in the 100 and 200 with world championship winning times of 9.58 seconds (100) and 19.19 seconds (200).
Golfer Lorena Ochoa of Mexico was second in the women’s balloting after a Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) season that saw her win fourth straight player of the year and lowest scoring average awards. Placing third was Kenyan distance runner Linet Masai, who won the 10,000 meters at the world track and field championships and led her team to victory in the world cross country championships.