2019 Athlete of the Year Ballot
Johannes Thingnes Boe, biathlon, Norway
Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe finished the 2019 biathlon season with a clean sweep of World Cup titles in sprint, pursuit, mass start and in the overall standings. Boe won gold in the sprint, releay, mixed relay and single mixed relay events at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Championshipos in Osterund, Sweden, in March. Boe also started the 2019-2020 season with a run of three victories in 10 kilometer sprint and 12.5 kilometer pursuit events in December.
Joe Burrow, football, United States
Louisiana State University (LSU) quarterback Joe Burrow was named winner of the 2019 Heisman Trophy, given annually to the best player in college football. Burrow passed for a Southeastern Conference (SEC) record 48 touchdowns and added 4,715 yards and led the Tigers to the conference title and a College Football Playoff berth. He also won the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and was named the Associated Press Player of the Year.
Nathan Chen, figure skating, United States
American figure skater Nathan Chen became the first American man since 1984 to win back-to-back world championships. Chen also won his third consecutive ISU Grand Prix Final and captured championships at the Internationaux de France and Skate America. He also won his third consecutive U.S. title, smashing the record for the highest margin of victory at 58.21 points.
Caeleb Dressel, swimming, United States
American swimmer Caeleb Dressel broke Michael Phelps’ 10-year-old world record in the 100-meter butterfly, posting a time of 49.50 at the 2019 FINA Aquatics World Championships in South Korea in July 2019. Dressel earned a record eight podium finishes, including six gold medals across individual and relay events.
Eliud Kipchoge, marathon, Kenya
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge earned his second consecutive World Athlete of the Year award after winning the London Marathon with a 2:02:37 course record and breaking the two-hour marathon barrier with a time of 1:59:40.2 in the Ineos159 Challenge in Vienna.
Kawhi Leonard, basketball, United States
Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard was named the 2019 NBA Finals MVP after averaging 28.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals in the Raptors’ 4-2 series win against Golden State in June. Leonard led the Raptors in points, rebounds, steals, and player efficiency rating during the finals series.
Noah Lyles, track and field, United States
American sprinter Noah Lyles had a career season in 2019 after finishing first in the 200-meters with a time of 19.83 and being part of the gold medal 4×100 relay team at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, in September. Lyles was also the 200-meter champion at the American championships and broke a meet record in the 200-meter race at the IAAF Diamond League final in Paris on 24 August 2019. Lyles also won the 100-meter race at the Diamond League event in Zurich later in August.
Lionel Messi, football (soccer), Argentina
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi of Argentina won the Ballon d’Or, soccer’s most prestigious individual prize, for a record sixth time in 2019. Messi scored 54 goals for Barcelona and Argentina and became Europe’s top scorer for the third consecutive season.
Rafael Nadal, tennis, Spain
Spain’s Rafael Nadal finished the season as the top-ranked player in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) world standings after winning his fourth U.S. Open title with a five-set win over Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in New York on 8 September 2019. Nadal won 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 for his 19th career Grand Slam title. He also won the French Open and reached the finals of the Australian Open.
Ryan O’Reilly, hockey, Canada
St. Louis Blues forward Ryan O’Reilly, of Canada, earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs in June. O’Reilly scored his team’s opening goal in each of the final four games of the Stanley Cup, becoming the first player since Wayne Gretzky to score in four consecutive finals games.
Stephen Strasburg, baseball, United States
Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg was named the MVP of the World Series after winning both of his starts against the Houston Astros in October. The right-hander became the first pitcher to go 5-0 in a single postseason, striking out 47 batters and posting an 11.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio, the third best in MLB postseason history.
Tiger Woods, golf, United States
Woods shot a 13-under 275 to capture the Masters championship on 14 April 2019 in Augusta, Ga. It was the fifth Masters title and 15th major championship for Woods, but first in 11 years. Woods also captained the United States to a win in the President’s Cup in Melbourne, Australia, in December. Woods finished with a 3-0-0 record in the tournament.
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Ashleigh Barty, tennis, Australia
Australia’s Ashleigh Barty earned the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) top-ranking after winning the French Open, her first career major singles title, in June. Barty, 23, won the 2019 WTA Finals tournament and reached at least the second week of play in all four Grand Slam tournaments and posted a Tour-leading 56 wins this season.
Simone Biles, gymnastics, United States
American gymnast Simone Biles won five gold medals at the 2019 FIG World Championships in Germany, improving her career total to a record 25 world medals. During the competition, she completed two skills never performed by a female gymnast in competition: a double-double dismount on beam and a triple-double on floor. She also became the first woman since 1952 to win six U.S. all-around titles.
Brittany Bowe, speed skating, United States
American speed skater Brittany Bowe extended her yearlong 1000-meter win streak to seven after capturing the World Cup victory in Nagano, Japan, in December. The two-time Olympian, who also holds the world record in the event, set a new track record of 1:14.344 seconds. Bowe has now won seven consecutive world cup races at the distance, plus a world championship, in a run that stretches back to December 2018.
Elena Delle Donne, basketball, United States
Washington Mystics forward-guard Elena Delle Donne earned 2019 WNBA Most Valuable Player honors after scoring 19.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.29 blocks per game. She is the first WNBA player to shoot at least 50 percent from the field (51.5), 40 percent from the three-point line (43.0) and 90 percent from the free throw line (97.4). She earned Player of the Week honors seven times and swept all three Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors for the season.
Sifan Hassan, athletics, the Netherlands
Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands completed a golden double by winning both the 10,000-meter and 1,500-meter titles at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, in October 2019. Hassan finished the 1,500-meters with a time of 3:51.95, the sixth fastest time in history and just two seconds shy of the world record. She also set a world record in the 5km race in Monaco on 17 February 2019. Hassan finished the race with a time of 14:44, breaking the previous women’s-only record of 15:48 and the mixed race standard of 14:48.
Jin Young Ko, golf, South Korea
South Korea’s Jin Young Ko earned the LPGA’s Player of the Year award and ANNIKA Major Award after winning two majors – the ANA Inspiration and the Evian Championship – as well as the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and CP Women’s Open titles during the 2019 season. She also won the LPGA’s 2019 Vare Trophy for the season’s lowest scoring average of 69.062.
Brigid Kosgei, athletics, Kenya
Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei broke Paula Radcliffe’s 16-year-old women’s world record by winning the Chicago Marathon with a time of 2:14:04 on 13 October 2019. It was the second consecutive Chicago Marathon title for Kosgei, who also won the London Marathon in the season.
Dalilah Muhammad, athletics, United States
American athlete Dalilah Muhammad was named the female winner of the World Athlete of the Year award after twice breaking the world record in the 400-meter hurdles in 2019. Muhammad first broke the record with a time of 52.20 at the U.S. Championships in July, then broke it again at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, with a time of 52.16. She also won world gold in the 4×400 meter relay.
Megan Rapinoe, football (soccer), United States
American co-captain Megan Rapinoe won the Women’s Ballon d’Or award, soccer’s most prestigious prize, after leading the United States to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. She was named the best player of the tournament – winning both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards – after scoring six goals for the Americans in the tournament.
Mikaela Shiffrin, alpine skiing, United States
American Mikaela Shiffrin was the first alpine skier in history to capture 15 World Cup wins in a season, finishing with 17 first-place finishes in the 2019 season. She won season titles in slalom, giant slalom, Super G and the overall championship in 2019, and kicked off the 2020 season with slalom wins in November and December 2019. She has won 64 World Cup races, the third most all time by a female alpine skier, and 44 World Cup slalom races – the most ever for any alpine skier, male or female.
Kelly Sildaru, freestyle skiing, Estonia
Estonia’s Kelly Sildaru, 16, became the youngest freestyle skiing halfpipe world champion of all time when she won gold in the event at the International Ski Federation (FIS) Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships in Utah on 10 February 2019. Sildaru completed the first-ever switch 1080 performed by a female skier and won with a high score of 95.00 points. Sildaru also won gold, silver, and bronze in ski events at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo., in January.
Regan Smith, swimming, United States
American teenager Regan Smith, 17, broke Missy Franklin’s 2012 world record in the women’s 200-meter backstroke with a time of 2:03.35 at the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Korea in July. Smith also swam the backstroke leg in the 4×100 medley relay and set a world record in the 100-meter backstroke in that event. She was named USA Swimming’s Breakout Performer of the Year.