COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., February 2. SIX-TIME Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps (Towson, Md./Club Wolverine) was voted the 2004 United States Olympic Committee SportsMan of the Year Wednesday, the first time a swimmer has received the award since Pablo Morales won in 1992.
Olympian Natalie Coughlin (Concord, Calif./Cal) and Paralympian Erin Popovich (Silverbow, Mont./Colorado State) tied for the runner-up spot in the SportsWoman of the Year voting.
Phelps is the first American – and the only person in a non-boycotted Olympic Games – to win eight Olympic medals at a single Games. He won four individual titles (100m fly, 200m fly, 200m IM and 400m IM) at the Athens Games – matching Mark Spitz’s individual total – plus the bronze medal in the 200m free and three relay medals, including gold leading off the 800m free, gold swimming in the preliminaries of the 400m medley (teammate Ian Crocker replaced him in the finals) and bronze in the 400m free.
Additionally, Phelps broke the 400m IM world record, the American records in the 200m free and 800m free relay, and Olympic records six times while competing in the Athens Games. Returning to competition a mere two months after the Olympic flame was extinguished, Phelps won the gold medal in 200m free and set a new American record at the Short Course World Championships before pulling out of the meet with an injury.
The first American to twice win five national titles at one championship – and to do so in three different strokes, Phelps won the 100m free, 200m free, 200m back, 100m fly and 200m IM at the U.S. Spring Nationals. His five titles brought his career total to 20, ranking him first among active American male swimmers.
At the U.S. Olympic Trials, Phelps also became the first American to qualify in six individual events, winning the 200m free, 200m fly (in U.S. Open record time), 200m IM and 400m IM (lowering his own world record), and placing second in the 200m back and 100m fly, two events in which world record times were needed to beat him.
Named "World Swimmer of the Year" by Swimming World Magazine for the second year in a row, Phelps ranked first in the world in the 200m fly, 200m IM and 400m IM, and placed in the top-three for three other events.
“I am extremely honored to win this award,” Phelps said. “You look at all of the great athletes who could have won, and I’m definitely in a line of some of the greatest athletes in the world. Being able to have an opportunity to win this award is an honor.”
The fourth swimmer selected for the annual award, Phelps joins John Naber (1976), Matt Biondi (1986, 1988) and Pablo Morales (1992) as USOC SportsMan of the Year recipients.
Gymnast Carly Patterson and the U.S. Olympic Softball Team were voted the 2004 USOC SportsWoman and Team of the Year, respectively.
The USOC SportsMan and SportsWoman of the Year awards have been presented annually since 1974 to the top overall male and female athlete from within the USOC member organizations. The team award was added in 1996. Winners are selected from the individual female and male Athlete of the Year and Team of the Year nominations of the National Governing Bodies for the Olympic, Pan American and Affiliated Organizations within the U.S. Olympic Movement.
USOC SportsMan of the Year Honorees: 1974 – 2004
1974 – Jim Bolding, Athletics
1975 – Clinton Jackson, Boxing
1976 – John Naber, Swimming
1977 – Eric Heiden, Speedskating
1978 – Bruce Davidson, Equestrian
1979 – Eric Heiden, Speedskating
1980 – Eric Heiden, Speedskating
1981 – Scott Hamilton, Figure Skating
1982 – Greg Louganis, Diving
1983 – Rick McKinney, Archery
1984 – Edwin Moses, Athletics
1985 – Willie Banks, Athletics
1986 – Matt Biondi, Swimming
1987 – Greg Louganis, Diving
1988 – Matt Biondi, Swimming
1989 – Roger Kingdom, Athletics
1990 – John Smith, Wrestling
1991 – Carl Lewis, Athletics
1992 – Pablo Morales, Swimming
1993 – Michael Johnson, Athletics
1994 – Dan Jansen, Speedskating
1995 – Michael Johnson, Athletics
1996 – Michael Johnson Athletics
1997 – Pete Sampras, Tennis
1998 – Jonny Moseley, Skiing
1999 – Lance Armstrong, Cycling
2000 – Rulon Gardner, Wrestling
2001 – Lance Armstrong, Cycling
2002 – Lance Armstrong, Cycling
2003 – Lance Armstrong, Cycling
2004 – Michael Phelps, Swimming