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Nadal, Ledecky Named Academy May Athletes of the Month

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Katie Ledecky photo by JD Lasica via Flickr. Rafael Nadal photo via Wikimedia Commons. United States Sports Academy graphic.

By Eric Mann |

Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal and American swimmer Katie Ledecky have been named the United States Sports Academy’s Male and Female Athletes of the Month for May.

Nadal defeated Germany’s Alexander Zverev 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 to win the Italian Open in Rome on 20 May 2018. Nadal regained the world’s top ranking for men’s tennis with the victory.

Ledecky broke her own world record in the 1,500-meter freestyle by five seconds with a time of 15:20.48 at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Indianapolis, Ind., on 16 May 2018. Ledecky finished nearly 50 seconds faster than her nearest competitor. Later in the week, Ledecky won the 400-meter freestyle by more than 10 seconds, posting a time of 3:57.94 – the second fastest time ever recorded in the event.

The second place finisher on the men’s side was American runner Galen Rupp and third place went to American basketball player LeBron James.

Rupp recorded the second fastest marathon ever for an American, winning the Prague Marathon with a time of 2:06:07, on 6 May 2018. He shaved three minutes off his previous personal best time in the marathon in the win.

James had 35 points and 15 rebounds with nine assists as the Cavaliers defeated Boston 87-79 in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game 7 on 27 May 2018. James scored or assisted in 70 percent of Cleveland’s made field goals, leading the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in a dramatic comeback series. He led all scorers in the series with 33.8 points per game.

The second place finisher on the women’s side was American runner Sydney McLaughlin and third place went to American basketball player Alyssa Thomas.

McLaughlin, a freshman at the University of Kentucky, set a collegiate record and nearly broke a world record as she won the women’s 400-meter hurdles at the SEC Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Knoxville, Tenn. Her time of 52.75 was the fastest ever run by a female collegiate athlete, a world U20 record and just 0.41 seconds shy of the women’s world record.

Connecticut Sun forward Thomas won WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors after leading the conference in rebounding (10.0 per game) and minutes (31.9 per game) and ranking third in field goal percentage with 62.5 percent in the first week of the season. She opened the season with a career-high 17 rebounds, 13 points and six assists in a 101-65 win against Las Vegas on 20 May 2018.

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, Medallion Series, Distinguished Service Awards, Outstanding Athletes, and Alumni of the Year awards. This is the 34th year of the Academy’s Awards of Sport program.

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.

Founded in 1984, ASAMA is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history, and literature. The ASAMA collection is composed of more than 1,800 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.

The Academy is based in Daphne, Ala.  For more information, call (251) 626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.

Eric Mann is the communications assistant at the United States Sports Academy. 

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