Usain Bolt, the world's fastest man, and Serena Williams, the women's tennis 2012 Olympic singles and doubles gold medalist, have been named United States Sports Academy's 2012 Male and Female Athletes of the Year.
Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter who successfully repeated as the Olympic gold medalist in the 100 meters and 200 meters, is the first man ever to win both events in successive Summer Olympics. In London, he won the 100m in an Olympic record time of 9.63 seconds. He then won the 200 in 19.32—0.13 seconds off his world record. Bolt added a third gold as the anchor of Jamaica’s world record-setting 400-meter relay team that finished in 36.84 seconds.
Williams' double gold medal in London gave her the honor of being the only person to hold a career Golden Grand Slam in Olympic competition. The American also won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. She now possesses 15 Grand Slam titles overall, which is sixth on the all-time list.
The two Olympic standouts dominated the voting in the 28th consecutive year that the Academy has overseen the Athlete of the Year award, which was done in conjunction with NBC Sports. Hundreds of thousands of sports fans worldwide selected the most outstanding male and female athletes in online balloting on the Academy’s website at www.ussa.edu. The ballot included 12 males and 12 females and voting lasted from Dec. 1 to Dec. 21.
The Athlete of the Year ballot is the culmination of the Academy’s yearlong Athlete of the Month program, which recognizes the accomplishments of men and women in sports from around the globe. The public votes on a monthly winner and those votes, along with an Academy selection committee, choose the male and female winners monthly, who then become eligible for the prestigious Athlete of the Year honor.
In 2011, the Male Athlete of the Year was Serbia’s No. 1-ranked men’s tennis player Novak Djokovic and the Female Athlete of the Year was Taiwan’s No. 1-ranked women’s golfer Yani Tseng. They both dominated the voting that drew up to 50,000 votes a day from across the world.
This year’s ballot includes a mixture of athletes from 11 different countries representing a variety of sports. Finishing second in the male Athlete of the Year category was another Olympian, American swimmer Michael Phelps, whose 22 Olympic medals (18 gold medals) make him the most decorated Olympian of all-time.
The runner-up to Williams in the Female Athlete of the Year voting was 17-year-old American Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin, who won four gold medals and one bronze medal in London.
The third place winner on the men’s ballot was Djokovic, last year’s Athlete of the Year, who remained the world’s No. 1 tennis player this season. Meanwhile, Lindsey Vonn finished third in the voting for Female Athlete of the Year.
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