Who were the greatest athletes of 2009? Have your say in the United States Sports Academy’s Athlete of the Year balloting, presented to the world by NBCSports.com and USATODAY.com. Balloting begins at today at noon and continues through 24 December.
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. The Academy Athlete of the Month is selected by an international voting committee comprised of members of the media, sports organizations and governing bodies.
There are 12 male and 12 female candidates for Athlete of the Year. The Male and Female Athlete of the Year awards will go to the athletes that receive the most votes. Votes can be submitted on the Academy’s website at http://ussa.edu/ballots/athlete-of-the-year. The athlete with the most votes regardless of gender will be the Overall Athlete of the Year.
Last year’s winners were 2008 Olympic stars Michael Phelps and Nastia Liukin.
Voters are asked to select their top three candidates for the award in descending order. First choice is worth five points, second place is three points and third place is one point.
The men’s ballot consists of, in alphabetical order: Craig Alexander, triathlon, Australia; Usain Bolt, track and field, Jamaica; Drew Brees, football, United States; Kobe Bryant, basketball, United States; Angel Cabrera, golf, Argentina; Roger Federer, tennis, Switzerland; Santonio Holmes, football, United States; LeBron James, basketball, United States; Jimmie Johnson, auto racing, United States; Manny Pacquiao, boxing, Philippines; Albert Pujols, baseball, Dominican Republic; and Tiger Woods, golf, United States.
The women’s ballot consists of: Yelena Isinbaeva, track and field, Russia; Carmelita Jeter, track and field, United States; Courtney Kupets, gymnastics, United States; Linet Masai, track and field, Kenya; Lorena Ochoa, golf, Mexico; Courtney Paris, basketball, United States; Sanya Richards, track and field, United States; Jiyai Shin, golf, South Korea; Diana Taurasi, basketball, United States; Lindsey Vonn, skiing, United States; Chrissie Wellington, triathlon, United Kingdom; and Serena Williams, tennis, United States.