Following an online voting period that garnered thousands of votes from all corners of the world, American figure skating superstar Nathan Chen has repeated as the United States Sports Academy’s Male Athlete of the Year. On the women’s side, American swimmer Lilly King took home the Academy’s Female Athlete of the Year honor for 2020.

Chen and King both excelled in competition for the respective sports in a year marked by global disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chen won his fourth consecutive U.S. Figure Skating Championship after totaling 330.17 points and landing six quadruple jumps between two programs in Greensboro, N.C., in January 2020, then repeated the feat for his fifth consecutive U.S. title in January 2021. No American man has won as many consecutive national championships since the 1940s, when Dick Button captured seven straight titles. Chen also won his fourth consecutive Skate America title in competition in Las Vegas in October 2020.

King set four American records and one world record and finished 7-0 in her races to help the Cali Condors win the season title in the International Swimming League (ISL) final in Budapest in November. King lowered her own American records in both the 50m breaststroke (28.77) and the 200m breaststroke (2:15.56) and raced with the 400 medley relay team that broke the world record with a time of 3:44.52. She also won the 100m breaststroke with a time of 1:02.50, lowering the previous American record by nearly half a second.

The male runner-up was American swimmer Caeleb Dressel and third place went to American football star Patrick Mahomes.

Dressel won International Swimming League MVP honors and helped the Cali Condors win the league title after his record breaking performance in Budapest in November. Dressel raced to short-course world records in the 100-meter individual medley, 100m butterfly and 50m freestyle and a short-course American record in the 100m freestyle. He also became the first swimmer in history to finish under 50 seconds in the 100m individual medley (49.28) and under 48 seconds (47.78) in the 100m butterfly.

Mahomes earned the NFL’s Super Bowl MVP honors after passing for 286 yards and two touchdowns with an additional rushing touchdowns as the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Miami in February. Mahomes was named one of the Sports Illustrated Sportspeople of the Year for 2020.

The female runner-up was American snowboarder Jamie Anderson and third place went to American alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin.

Anderson became the most-medaled female competitor in the history of the X Games after winning the women’s slopestyle snowboarding championship – the eighth of her career – at the Burton U.S. Open in Colorado in February. Anderson had a record year after also winning the slopestyle title at the X Games, U.S. Grand Prix, and Dew Tour earlier in the season.

Shiffrin won gold in the women’s giant slalom event in Courchevel, France, in December – her first victory in the discipline after 323 days filled with injury, Covid-19 cancellations, and a tragic death in her family. It was Shiffrin’s 67th career World Cup victory, tying her for third place with Marcel Hirscher among all-time skiers.

The Athlete of the Year awards are the culmination of the Academy’s yearlong selection process through which outstanding accomplishments of men and women in sports from around the globe are recognized. Each month, the public is invited to participate in the Academy’s worldwide Athlete of the Month program by nominating athletes and then voting online during the first week of every month.

The Athlete of the Year Award is part of the United States Sports Academy’s Awards of Sport program, which each year serves as “A Tribute to the Artist and the Athlete.”  The Academy presents the awards to pay tribute to those who have made significant contributions to sport, in categories as diverse as the artist and the athlete in several different arenas of sport.

The awards honor exemplary achievement in coaching, all-around athletic performance, courage, humanitarian activity, fitness and media, among others. The Academy’s American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) annually recognizes these men and women through its Sport Artist of the Year, Honorary Doctorates, Distinguished Service Awards, Outstanding Athletes, and Alumni of the Year awards. This is the 36th year of the Academy’s Awards of Sport program.