For the 27th consecutive year, the United States Sports Academy will name an Athlete of the Year in conjunction with USA Today and NBC Sports.
Sports fans from across the world will decide who the most outstanding male and female athletes were in 2011 through online voting on the Academy’s website. The ballot of 12 males and 12 females goes live at midnight Thursday, Dec. 1 and closes at midnight Saturday, Dec. 24.
The 2010 Athlete of the Year ballot received more than 12 votes per second from around the world at one point and ended with hundreds of thousands of votes cast. In 2010, the Male Athlete of the Year was Spain’s star soccer player David Villa and the Female Athlete of the Year was South Korea’s No. 1 figure skater Yuna Kim. They both dominated the voting.
This year’s ballot includes a mixture of athletes from 15 different countries representing a wide variety of popular sports. Their performances stood out and provided some of the best highlights and stories in sports during the past year.
In alphabetical order, the 12 men competing for the Academy’s prestigious Athlete of the Year honor are:
- David Beckham, soccer, Great Britain
- Patrick Chan, figure skating, Canada
- Novak Djokovic, tennis, Serbia
- Kirani James, track and field, Grenada
- Ryan Lochte, swimming, United States
- Rory McIlroy, golf, Ireland
- Geoffrey Mutai, marathon, Kenya
- Dirk Nowitzki, basketball, Germany
- Manny Pacquiao, boxing, Phillipines
- Aaron Rodgers, football, United States
- Kohei Uchimura, gymnastics, Japan
- Justin Verlander, baseball, United States
In alphabetical order, the 12 women competing for the Academy’s prestigious Athlete of the Year honor are:
- Miki Ando, figure skating, Japan
- Seimone Augustus, basketball, United States
- Tatyana Chernova, track and field, Russia
- Kim Clijsters, tennis, Belgium
- English Gardner, track and field, United States
- Carmelita Jeter, track and field, United States
- Li Na, tennis, China
- Federica Pellegrini, swimming, Italy
- Yani Tseng, golf, Taiwan
- Lindsey Vonn, skiing, United States
- Jordyn Wieber, gymnastics, United States
- Chrissie Wellington, triathlon, Great Britain
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. Each month, the worldwide online votes along with the Academy’s selection committee choose the male and female winners.
The Academy, in conjunction with USA Today and NBC Sports, will announce the 2011 Male and Female Athletes of the Year on Christmas Day on Sunday, Dec. 25.