Bradley Wiggins and Serena Williams dominated premier events in their sports—the Tour de France and Wimbledon—and were chosen as the United States Sports Academy’s July Athletes of the Month.
The 32-year-old cyclist Wiggins became Britain’s first winner of cycling’s greatest race—the Tour de France. His runaway victory ended a 75-year drought for his country that saw 59 other British cyclists compete and fail to ever win. In the three-week and more than 2,100-mile race, Wiggins snagged the title by wearing the yellow jersey in the last 14 of 20 stages of the 99th Tour de France.
Meanwhile, Williams, at the age of 30, showed her prowess on the court by nailing a tournament-record 102 aces on her way to winning her fifth Wimbledon crown and 14th major title overall. Williams was dominant from start to finish in the finals, beating Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-1, 5-7, 6-2. Williams’ tournament victory ended a two-year winless streak for her that included a 10-month battle with injuries. To top it off, she and her sister, Venus, added their fifth Wimbledon doubles championship, as well.
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 for the second consecutive month was American swimmer Michael Phelps, who became the most decorated Olympian in history by winning his 19th medal on July 31 at the 2012 London Games. Phelps collected a silver in the 200-meter butterfly and gold in the 4×200-meter relay. He finished his Olympic career with 22 medals total, including 18 gold. He surpassed the previous record-holder Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, whose combined 18 medallions came at the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Summer Olympics.
The runner up to Williams on the women’s ballot was 17-year-old American swimmer Missy Franklin. She won her first individual gold medal at the 2012 London Games in the 100-meter backstroke in an American-record time of 58.33 seconds. Franklin edged Australian Emily Seebohm by overtaking her in the last 10 meters. Franklin, the first American female swimmer in history to qualify for seven events, ended up winning four gold medals and one bronze in her first Olympics.
Third place winners for July were American NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, who tied the record of four career wins on the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway with his victory in the Brickyard 400, and American swimmer Dana Vollmer, who set a world-record time of 55.98 seconds in the 100-meter butterfly to win gold at the 2012 London Olympics and captured two other golds in relay events.
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.