Triatheletes Craig Alexander (left) and Chrissie Wellington
The winners from the Ironman Triathlon World Championships, Craig Alexander and Chrissie Wellington, swept the United States Sports Academy’s Male and Female Athlete of the Month honors for October.
Alexander, from Australia, won his second straight Ironman in Kona, Hawaii. Running in stifling heat, Alexander completed the 140.6 mile endurance test in 8 hours, 20 minutes, 21 seconds. He became just the fourth man to win back-to-back titles.
Wellington, of the United Kingdom, captured her third consecutive Ironman. Her time of 8:54.02 smashed a course record that lasted 17 years and was only 35 minutes behind Alexander and 20 minutes ahead of the nearest female competitor.
Finishing a close second in the male category was Philadelphia Phillies left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee, who dominated batters during Major League Baseball’s postseason. Lee was 3-0 in four October playoff starts. In 33 1/3 innings, Lee gave up only two earned runs and 20 hits, striking out 30 and walking only three batters as the Phillies advanced to the World Series.
Taking second in the female category was American gymnast Bridget Sloan, who edged teammate Rebecca Bross to win the 2009 World Artistic Gymnastics all-around championship in London. Sloan finished with 57.825 points and became the fifth American woman to win the world all-around title.
Finishing third for male athletes was another triathlete, Tim O’Donnell of the United States. He won the Long Distance Triathlon World Championship, finishing the 3-kilometer swim, 80-kilometer cycle and 20K run in 3 hours, 48 minutes, 15 seconds.
Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star Diana Taurasi, the September winner, placed third in the female category. She won the Finals most valuable player award by scoring 26 points in the fifth and deciding game of the Finals series against the Indiana Fever.
At the end of each year, the Athlete of the Month contests culminate in the Academy Athlete of the Year worldwide fan vote, hosted by USATODAY.com and MSNBC.com. Each month’s winners are automatically added to the Athlete of the Year ballot.