DAPHNE, Alabama - Starting 1 December, sports fans worldwide can vote online for the 2007 United States Sports Academy Athlete of the Year presented by USATODAY.com and MSNBC.com. Last year, the ballot attracted nearly half a million votes from around the globe.
Votes will be collected through 24 December.
The Academy 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 around the globe. The Academy's Athlete of the Month is selected by an international voting committee comprised of former athletes, media, sports organizations and governing bodies.
The 2007 male ballot includes Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, Swiss tennis great Roger Federer, American sprinter Tyson Gay, Ethiopian runner Haile Gebrselassie, Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star LeBron James, NASCAR Champion Jimmy Johnson, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker, American swimming star Michael Phelps and golf superstar Tiger Woods.
This 2007 female ballot includes American swimmer Natalie Coughlin, Ethiopian runner Meseret Defar, American sprinter Allyson Felix, Austrian skier Renate Goetschl, Belgian tennis star Justine Henin, Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, Australian basketball player Lauren Jackson, Swedish heptathlon champion Carolina Kluft, Mexican golfer Lorena Ochoa, Norwegian golfer Suzann Pettersen, American tennis great Venus Williams and American swimmer Kate Ziegler.
As in years past, the athlete receiving the most votes will be named the Academy's Athlete of the Year. Past winners include Lance Armstrong, Roger Federer, Mia Hamm, Michael Jordan, Annika Sorenstam and Tiger Woods. In addition to the overall winner, a Female Athlete of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year will be named from the athletes who receive the most votes, outside of the overall winner, in each of the respective categories.
"There are many great athletes on the ballot this year and opening the vote to a worldwide audience is exciting because we receive feedback from a wide range of sports fans who will ultimately decide which athlete is best of the best," Academy President Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich said. "Our partners, USATODAY.com and MSNBC.com, make it possible for this vote to reach fans online around the world 24 hours a day."
In 2006, as the leading overall vote-getter in the combined male and female categories, tennis sensation Roger Federer repeated as the Outstanding Athlete of the Year. Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova received the most votes in the women's category, earning the 2006 Female Athlete of the Year honor. Federer and Sharapova were presented their awards on center court at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. Golf megastar Tiger Woods won the 2006 Male Athlete of the Year award.
*USATODAY.com is an award-winning news and information website that is updated 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Each month, millions of unique monthly visitors access USATODAY.com News, Money, Sports, Life, Technology, Weather and Travel sections, which combine the best of USA TODAY news and information and the latest breaking news with cutting-edge interactive features, information graphics and multimedia functions including audio, video and live webcasts. USATODAY.com is owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI). For more information, visit www.usatoday.com.
MSNBC.com is the exclusive online channel for the NBC Universal News family, which includes the Today show, NBC Nightly News, Dateline NBC, Meet the Press and MSNBC TV. MSNBC.com provides the optimal consumer experience, presenting a diverse range of original content and the best from partners in a rich multi-media environment that includes interactive features and free streaming video, allowing users to access the news and information they want, when they want it, 24 hours a day. Based in Redmond, Wash., MSNBC.com is a joint venture of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and NBC Universal, a division of General Electric (NYSE:GE).
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and the 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 United States Sports Academy, "America's Sports University," call 251-626-3303 or visit the Academy's website at www.ussa.edu.*