Kohei Uchimura, a Japanese gymnast who won a record fourth world championship, and Suzann Pettersen, a Norwegian golfer who successfully defended her LPGA Taiwan Championship, earned the United States Sports Academy’s Athlete of the Month award for October.
The 24-year-old Uchimura proved he is the greatest gymnast in history by winning a record fourth all-around world title by a whopping 1.958 points at the World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium. The Olympic champion beat Japanese compatriot Ryohei Kato in a final that had a sense of inevitability from the start when Uchimura opened with the best floor exercise of the six top qualifiers.
Meanwhile, Pettersen, the No. 2 ranked women’s golfer in the world, closed with a 3-under 69 for a five-stroke victory in the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship in Taiwan. Pettersen’s successful defense of her title in the LPGA Taiwan Championship was her fourth tour victory this year and third in her last five starts. She finished at 9-under 279 total in the tournament.
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 during the first two weeks of each month to vote for the male and female Athletes of the Month. The votes along with an Academy committee choose the winners who become candidates for the Athlete of the Year. The monthly and yearly winners are announced on the Academy’s website and in the sports university’s online edition of The Sport Update.
Finishing second in the men’s category was Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who is from the Dominican Republic. He was an easy selection as the World Series Most Valuable Player, hitting an incredible .688 with two homers and six RBIs. In addition to his 11 hits, Ortiz walked eight times, giving him an on base percentage of .792, the second highest in World Series history. In the postseason, he led all of baseball with five homers and was second in RBIs with 13.
The runner-up to Pettersen on the women’s ballot was 16-year-old American gymnast Simone Biles. She won the all-around gold medal at the World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium. She anchored the strongest U.S. team performance in World Championship history, which saw her and her teammates win 12 medals total. Besides the all-around, Biles finished with three more medals in individual events.
Third place winners for October were Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, who led the National Hockey League (NHL) in scoring with 21 points—eight goals and 13 assists—in the Penguins’ first 13 games of the 2013 season; and Kerri Walsh, an American beach volleyball player who broke the record for most tournament wins by a female when she won her 113th with teammate April Ross in the women’s final of the Federation International de Volleyball (FIVB) Xiamen Grand Slam.
Uchimura and Pettersen are now eligible for the Academy’s male and female 2013 Athlete of the Year Award. For the 29th consecutive year, the Academy will oversee the worldwide online voting that will take place in December. This prestigious award is currently done in conjunction with NBC Sports.
In 2012, the male Athlete of the Year was Usain Bolt when he became the first man ever to win both the 100- and 200-meter races in successive Olympics. The female Athlete of the Year was American tennis player Serena Williams, who became the singles champion at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Olympics. Both Olympians dominated 2012’s online ballot in December, which drew tens of thousands of votes a day from across the world.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.