A pair of legendary American athletes were voted the United States Sports Academy’s Athletes of the Month after their performances on the world stage in the month of May. Golfer Phil Mickelson and gymnast Simone Biles earned the honors after both athletes made history at their respective events.
Mickelson, 50, shot a 6-under 282 to win the PGA Championship in South Carolina on 23 May 2021 and became the oldest major tournament champion of all time. It was Mickelson’s sixth major victory which moved him to 12th all time.
Biles made history as the first woman to perform a Yurchenko double pike vault in competition at the U.S. Classic event in Indianapolis on 22 May 2021. The Yurchenko double pike – a high-difficulty skill historically only done by men – is a roundoff onto the springboard, followed by a back handspring onto the vaulting table, and ending with a piked double backflip into the air to landing. Biles defended her U.S. Classic all-around title with a score of 58.400 in her first competition in more than a full year.
The second place finisher on the men’s side was Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal and third place went to Dominican baseball player Fernando Tatis Jr.
Nadal defeated world number one Novak Djokovic of Serbia to capture his record 10th Italian Open title on 16 May 2021. Nadal won 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 and won his 36th ATP Masters 1000 title to tie Djokovic’s record.
San Diego Padres shortstop Tatis Jr. earned National League Player of the Month honors after hitting .353 with nine homeruns and 26 RBI in May 2021. Tatis Jr. missed eight games in May with COVID and still led the league in homeruns and a 1.264 OPS in 84 plate appearances.
The second place finisher on the women’s side was American triathlete Taylor Knibb and third place went to Italian swimmer Benedetta Pilato.
Knibb qualified for the Tokyo Olympics after winning gold at the World Triathlon Championship Series event in Yokohama, Japan, on 15 May 2021. Knibb won with a time of 1:54:27.
Pilato, age 16, broke the women’s 50-meter breaststroke world record on 22 May 2021 in competition at the European Aquatics Championships in Budapest. Pilato’s time of 29.30 seconds broke American swimmer Lilly King’s record of 29.40 in the semi-final round. The following day, Pilato won the women’s 50-meter breaststroke final with a time of 29.35 seconds.