After one week of online voting, the Academy announced their 2014 February male and female Athlete of the Month recipients. Russian short-track speed skater, Viktor Ahn, captured first place in the men’s division, while Park Seung-hi, a short-track speed skater from South Korea, sped to first in the women’s.
Ahn who is not unaccustomed to first place, recently captured three gold medals in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, last month. The 28 year old earned his medals in the short track men’s 1000 meter race with a winning time of 1:24:102, the men’s 500 meter race with a winning time of 41.312 seconds and in the men’s 5000 relay. In addition to his gold medals, Ahn earned a bronze medal in the men’s 1500 meter race.
Seung-hi, a fellow Olympian, received two gold medals and one bronze medal during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Seung-hi, 21, received gold in the ladies’ 1000 meter race with a winning time of 1:00:761, and the ladies’ 3000 meter relay with a winning time of 4:09:498. Seung-hi’s bronze medal was earned in the 500 ladies’ meter finals.
The second place winner in the men’s division went to Renaud Lavillenie, a French pole-vaulter, who broke the world record for indoor pole vaulting at the Pole Vault Stars in Ukraine with a height of 6.16 meters (20.21 feet).
Also in second place in the women’s division is Genzebe Dibaba, an Ethiopian middle and long-distance runner who set three separate world records within 15 days. The first record, which Dibaba beat by three seconds, is the 1500 meter world record with a time of 3:55:17. The second record was broken in the women’s indoor 3000 meters by nearly seven seconds with a time of 8:55:04. Dibaba also broke the two-mile record with a time of 9:00:48, which is nearly six seconds less than the previous record holder.
Malcolm Smith of the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks landed in third place in the Athlete of the Month’s men’s division. Smith was named the Most Valuable Player of the XLVIII Super Bowl game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, 2 February 2014. The Seahawks overpowered the Broncos 43-8 at the Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.
Tina Maze, a Slovenian ski racer, took third place in the women’s division after earning the gold medal in both the women’s giant slalom race with a winning time of 1 minute, 18.99 seconds and the women’s downhill with a time of 1 minute, 41.57 seconds at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
First place recipients, Ahn and Seung-hi, are now eligible for the Academy’s male and female 2014 Athlete of the Year Award. For the 30th consecutive year, the Academy will oversee the worldwide online voting that will take place in December. This prestigious award is currently done in conjunction with NBC Sports.
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 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 sports university’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.