The sensational play of new phenoms Jeremy Lin, a 23-year-old New York Knicks point guard, and Jessica Korda, an 18-year-old who won her first women’s golf tournament, earned them selection as the United States Sports Academy’s February Athletes of the Month.
Lin, who is of Asian descent, became an unlikely National Basketball Association star. The former Harvard standout cut by two NBA teams scored 25 points and dished 7 assists in his first start Feb. 4. He then led the Knicks on a seven-game win streak. In his 13 starts in February, Lin averaged 22.3 points per game and 9.8 assists per game. He scored 38 points and added 7 assists against the Los Angeles Lakers and totaled 28 points and 14 assists against the Dallas Mavericks. Lin’s play has been called “Amasian” and sparked worldwide interest that has been labeled “Lin-sanity.”
Meanwhile, Korda recorded a breakout win in the Women’s Australian Open at Royal Melbourne. The teenager won her first Ladies Professional Golf Association tour title by making a 25-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole of a six-player playoff. After losing the lead, Korda fought back to take the last spot in the six-player playoff, which matched the largest in LPGA tour history. Korda closed with a 1-over-par 74 to finish at 3-under 289 for the tournament. Her victory in only her 16th start as an LPGA member made her the sixth-youngest winner in LPGA history and the fourth youngest to win a 72-hole event.
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 New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who won his second Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award. He led the Giants down the field on an 88-yard, game-winning drive to help his team win the Super Bowl, 21-17, over the New England Patriots. Manning completed 30 for 40 passes for 296 yards, with one touchdown pass and zero interceptions in the championship game.
The runner up to Korda on the women’s ballot was American skier Lindsey Vonn, who won a super-G on a demanding course in Bansko, Bulgaria, to become the World Cup career leader in the discipline. It was her 10th World Cup victory this season and the 51st of her career. By winning her 18th super-G, Vonn overtook Austria’s Renate Goetschl for the record. Vonn won in 1 minute, 15.66 seconds to take a commanding lead in the overall points total in her quest to reclaim the overall World Cup crown she lost last season.
Third place winners for February were American golfer Phil Mickelson, who came from a six shot deficit in the final round to win the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and American Jillian Camarena-Williams, who set an American track and field indoor record in the shot put with a throw of 19.89 meters or 65 feet and 3.75 inches.
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.