Taiwan’s Yani Tseng is in the running for the US Sports Academy’s Athlete of the Year award again.
Following a record-breaking season last year — spending 45 straight weeks at the top of the Women’s World Golf Rankings and claiming her fifth major championship at the age of 22 to become the youngest golfer, male or female, to do so — Tseng was last year crowned the academy’s Female Athlete of the Year.
Last year’s men’s award went to tennis player Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who has also been nominated again. Both dominated a ballot that drew as many as 50,000 votes a day from across the world last year.
Tseng, who hails from Taoyuan County’s Gueishan Township, won back-to-back LPGA tournaments in March and won three of the first five LPGA tournaments this year.
The 23-year-old has now spent 94 consecutive weeks at the top of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, although Choi Na-yeon (No. 2) of South Korea and Stacy Lewis of the US (No. 3) have been creeping up on her.
Novak Djokovic remained the No. 1-ranked tennis player this season. In arguably the best match of the year, he beat Rafael Nadal to win the Australian Open in the longest Grand Slam final in history — 5 hours and 53 minutes.
This will be the 28th straight year the academy has honored the world’s most outstanding male and female sports stars. Online voting goes live tomorrow and closes at midnight on Friday, Dec. 21. The award will be presented in conjunction with NBC Sports and the academy will announce the winner on Christmas Day.
Sports fans can vote on the academy’s Web site at https://www.ussa.edu/ballots/athlete-of-the-year.
The ballot of 12 men and 12 women includes a mix of athletes from 11 countries representing a wide variety of popular sports.
The 12 women competing for this year’s award are: Victoria Azarenka of Belarus (world No. 1 tennis player); Tamika Catchings of the US (basketball forward for the Indiana Fever and Galatasaray); Gabby Douglas of the US (artistic gymnast); Jessica Ennis of England (track and field athlete); Allyson Felix of the US (track and field athlete); Missy Franklin of the US (swimmer); Carmelita Jeter of the US (sprinter); Carolina Kostner of Italy (figure skater); Jessica Korda of the US (golfer); Tseng; Lindsey Vonn of the US (alpine ski racer); and Serena Williams of the US (former world No. 1 tennis player).
The male nominees are: Drew Brees of the US (New Orleans Saints quarterback); Usain Bolt of Jamaica (sprinter); Miguel Cabrera of Venezuela (Detroit Tigers first/third baseman); J.R. Celski of the US (speedskater); Novak Djokovic of Serbia (world No. 1 men’s tennis player); Ashton Eaton of the US (decathlete and heptathlete); LeBron James of the US (Miami Heat small forward); Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland (world No. 1 men’s golfer); Lionel Messi of Argentina (FC Barcelona forward and Argentina soccer captain); Andy Murray of Scotland (world No. 3 men’s tennis player); Michael Phelps of the US (swimmer and the most decorated Olympian of all time); and Bradley Wiggins of England (first British Tour de France winner).