When it comes to winning, May’s top honorees for the United States Sports Academy’s Athlete of the Month are no strangers to it. Displaying expertise on the court and the track for years, respectively, LeBron James and Genzebe Dibaba succeeded again, this time gaining favor with those making selections on the online public ballot.
American basketball star, James, beat the competition and claimed the number one spot not only for the Athlete of the Month, but also for his team. He recently led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals with a 118-88 win over the Atlanta Hawks in Cleveland, scoring 23 points with nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals, one block and only one turnover in 29 minutes.
Track and Field star Renaud Lavillenie came in second for the men. The pole vaulter broke the men’s outdoor International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League Pole Vault record at the Prefontaine Classic contested at the legendary Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. His winning vault was 6.05 meters (19.85 feet). Baseball sensation and right fielder for the Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper, came in third in the voting after he had a three-game run for the ages May 6-9, belting six homers, driving in 12 runs, and scoring seven. Harper drilled a game-winning, two-run, ninth-inning blast to cap off that stretch in an 8-6 victory against Atlanta.
On the women’s side, distance running sensation Dibaba was voted to the number one spot for Athlete of the Month after winning the women’s 5000 meter race and setting a meet record during the Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. Her winning time was 14:19:76. Earlier this year, Dibaba broke the world record for the indoor 5000 meter race at the XL Galan meet in Stockholm, posting a time of 14:18.86.
Chinese table tennis star Ding Ning was runner-up to Dibaba in the voting. The World No. 1 player pulled off one of the most dramatic victories in table tennis history on May 3 as she overcame injury in the final game to edge Liu Shiwen in an all-Chinese World Championships final in Suzhou. After taking a medical timeout, Ning decided to continue despite struggling to walk, but played a brilliantly tactical game to win the decider 11-8 and complete a famous 4-3 victory. Louisiana State University Track and Field star, Jasmine Stowers, came in third in the voting for the women. The seven-time All-American won the women’s 100-meter hurdles at the Jamaica International Invitational in Kingston, Jamaica, posting a time of 12.39 seconds – which is among the top 10 fastest of all time for the women’s 100-meter hurdles.
The public is invited to participate in the worldwide Athlete of the Month nomination and voting process. Visit the Academy website at www.ussa.edu to submit your nominations each month, and then return to the website during the first two weeks of each month to vote for the male and female Athletes of the Month. The votes along with an Academy committee choose the winners who become candidates for the Athlete of the Year. The monthly and yearly winners are announced on the Academy’s website and in the Academy’s online edition of The Sport Update.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission Sports University created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.