French biathlete Martin Fourcade and American tennis star Serena Williams have been named the United States Sports Academy’s Male and Female Athletes of the Month for January.
Fourcade won three International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup events in January, all in Germany. Fourcade won his 10th IBU event of the season on 15 January 2017, taking home first place in the 12.5 kilometer. Fourcade won the men’s 10 kilometer sprint race on 12 January and the 12.5 kilometer pursuit on 7 January.
Williams defeated her sister, Venus, in straight sets to capture her seventh overall Australian Open championship on 28 January 2017. The win was Williams’ 23rd Grand Slam title. The win also moved Williams to the top of the women’s world rankings and moved her ahead of Steffi Graf on the all-time list of major victories.
The two athletes are now eligible to be considered for the Academy’s prestigious Athlete of the Year Award at year’s end.
The second place finisher on the men’s side was Clemson University quarterback Deshaun Watson and third place went to Swiss tennis star Roger Federer.
Watson completed 36 of 56 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns, along with 43 yards rushing and a fourth touchdown on the ground, as the Tigers defeated Alabama 35-31 in the College Football Playoff National Championship on 9 January 2017. Watson was named the game’s offensive MVP for his performance.
Federer defeated rival Rafael Nadal in five sets to win the Australian Open men’s championship in Melbourne on 29 January 2017. The win was Federer’s 18th Grand Slam men’s singles title.
The second place finisher on the women’s side was Russian figure skater Evgenia Medvedeva and third place went to Ukrainian pentathlete Alina Shukh.
Medvedeva, 17, won her second consecutive International Skating Union (ISU) European Figure Skating Championship on 27 January 2017. She finished with a total score of 229.71 after notching a 150.79 score in the free skate event. Medvedeva is the reigning European and world champion.
Shukh broke the world U20 indoor record with 4,550 points in the pentathlon at the national indoor team championships in Ukraine on 27 January 2017. Shukh, 17, broke the previous mark of 4,535 points set in 2002. She also broke personal bests in the 60 meter hurdles, high jump and shot put.
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 online votes are used to guide the Academy selection committee in choosing the male and female monthly winners, who then become eligible for selection to the prestigious Athlete of the Year ballot. A worldwide public vote on the annual ballot is used to guide the committee in making the final selection.
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, Medallion Series, Outstanding Athletes, and Alumni of the Year awards. This is the 33rd year of the Academy’s Awards of Sport program.
Based in Daphne, Ala., 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.
Founded in 1984, ASAMA is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history, and literature. The ASAMA collection is composed of nearly 2,000 works of sport art across a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints and photographs. The museum is open free to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. For more information, go to www.asama.org.
By Eric Mann
Eric Mann is the communications assistant at the United States Sports Academy. Reach him at email@example.com.