COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The U.S. Olympic Committee announced USA Track & Field's Jenn Stuczynski and USA Cycling's Steven Cisar as its May Athletes of the Month, while the USA Men's Senior National Water Polo Team was awarded Team of the Month honors.
The third woman ever to clear the 16-foot barrier in the pole vault and a two-time USA Outdoor champion, Stuczynski (Churchville, N.Y.), became the No. 2 performer all-time in that event Sunday, May 18 at the 2008 adidas Track Classic at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The 2008 World Indoor silver medalist, cleared 4.90 meters/16 feet .75 inch in bettering her own American record of 4.88m/16 feet set on June 2, 2007, in New York City. Only Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia has soared higher in the history of the event. For her efforts, Stuczynski was named The Team USA Athlete of the Meet, presented by Visa. Later that week, she was also named USA Track & Field's Athlete of the Week.
Cisar (Altadena, Calif.) earned a silver medal for the USA Cycling Team in the elite men's contest at the 2008 UCI BMX World Championships on May 31. As one of two Americans to qualify for the final eight-man main, Cisar finished just 0.384 seconds off the winner Maris Strombergs of Latvia, while Stifiso Nhlapo of South Africa took the bronze and American Donny Robinson (Napa, Calif.) placed fourth. Cisar is possibly the best American BMX rider that nobody's heard of. Often times overshadowed by the depth of the talent pool in the United States, he has consistently posted solid results on the domestic circuit before breaking through at the international level. By finishing in the top-5 in the U.S. rankings, Cisar earned an automatic bid to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, June 14, at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
The USA Men's Senior National Team turned in a perfect record at their recent America's Cup in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Using a split squad, the team garnered four victories over Team Canada, a team qualified for the Beijing Olympic Games. The performance was followed by the defeat of then No. 1 team in the world, Croatia 8-5, by the Americans in front of a sellout crowd in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Team USA was able to battle back from a 3-1 deficit at halftime to come away with a momentous victory over what is considered one of the elite teams in the world headed into the 2008 Olympic Games. Tony Azevedo tallied three goals, while Ryan Bailey scored two, and Jeff Powers, John Mann and Jesse Smith each struck once.
USA Men's Senior National Water Polo Team Roster:
Brian Alexander (Cambria, Calif.), Tony Azevedo (Long Beach, Calif.), Ryan Bailey (Long Beach, Calif.), Layne Beaubien (Coronado, Calif.), Brandon Brooks (Honolulu, Hawaii), Adam Hewko (Irving, Calif.), Thomas Hopkins (Coronado, Calif.), Peter Hudnut (Encino, Calif.), Tim Hutten (Seal Beach, Calif.), Genai Kerr (Imperial Beach, Calif.), JW Krumpholz (Santa Ana, Calif.), John Mann (Newport Beach Calif.), Rick Merlo (Fresno, Calif.), Merrill Moses (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.), Jeff Powers (San Luis Obispo, Calif.), Jesse Smith (Coronado, Calif.), Peter Varellas (Moraga, Calif.), and Adam Wright (Seal Beach, Calif.).
Receiving second place in the women's voting was Melanie Roach (Bonney Lake, Wash.), who realized a delayed dream and qualified for her first U.S. Olympic Team when she won the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Weightlifting on May 16-17 in Atlanta, Ga. Roach totaled 190kg for a 87.96% weight lifted to body weight ratio to secure the first women's Olympic slot. She posted a top snatch of 81kg and a best clean and jerk of 109kg to total the 190kg. Roach was on target to make the U.S. Olympic Team for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, but suffered a back injury in 1999 that forced an early retirement. Roach then married, started a business and had three children before returning to the sport in 2005.
Lisa Wang (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) won her third straight U.S. all-around title in rhythmic gymnastics, as well as all four gold medals in the individual events (clubs, hoop, ribbon and rope), at the 2008 Visa Championships, May 22-24 in Houston, Texas, which gave her enough points to finish third in the voting. The Visa Championships was her last competition because she has decided to retire from competitive gymnastics to attend Yale University. Wang retires with 13 career U.S. senior rhythmic gymnastics titles: the all-around, clubs, hoop, ribbon and rope in 2008; the all-around, hoop and clubs in 2007; the all-around, ball and ribbon in 2006; and ball and clubs in 2005. She also won five U.S. titles as a junior: hoop and clubs in 2002; and the all-around, ball and ribbon in 2001.
Coming in at second in the men's voting was Tony Azevedo (Long Beach, Calif.) who led his split USA squad to a perfect record at the America's Cup held in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in late May with five victories. This included two victories over Team Canada, a team qualified for the Beijing Olympic Games, where Azevedo scored two goals each. He finished the tournament with a total of eight goals. Azevedo then followed up with three goals in an 8-5 upset of No. 1 ranked Croatia on May 31 at Oaks Christian School.
Earning the third-place vote was Troy Dumais (Austin, Texas) who won silver and bronze medals on 3-meter in two international events in May. At the AT&T USA Diving Grand Prix, he won silver with 473.60 points. He was in third-place with one round to go, but scored 8's and 8.5's on his reverse 2 ½ with 1 ½ twists to move up to second. At the FINA Diving World Series in Sheffield, Great Britain, he won bronze with 452.90 points to finish third behind 2008 World Cup gold and silver medalists He Chong and Gin Kai of China. The top eight finishers at the World Cup were invited to participate in the World Series.
Second place in the team vote went to the beach volleyball duo of Elaine Youngs (El Toro, Calif.) and Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) who came out of the loser's bracket to win the FIVB open tournament on May 28-31 in Barcelona. Branagh was voted the tournament's most outstanding player. She had seven of the top eight fastest serves at the event (topping out at 51 mph) as the duo won five straight matches after a defeat on the first day of the competition. Youngs made history by becoming the oldest player, at 38 years, three months and 16 days, to win an event. The team moved up two spots in the race for Olympic qualifying points, solidifying their chances of earning a spot in the 24-team tournament in Beijing.
Coming in at third was the identical tennis twins Bob and Mike Bryan (Camarillo, Calif.). They posted an 11-1 record in May, reaching three consecutive ATP doubles finals on red clay-capturing two titles-to increase their lead at No. 1 in the world doubles rankings. The Bryan brothers went 4-0 to capture their second doubles title of the season at the Open Sabadell Atlantico in Barcelona, Spain. They defeated the No. 7 seeds 6-3, 6-2 in the final on May 4. The following week the Bryans again went 4-0 to capture their second consecutive title, defeating the No. 2 seeds Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 3-6, 6-4, 10-8 on May 11 at Internazionali BNL D'Italia in Rome, Italy. In the second round that week, Mike reached a career milestone with his 500th career doubles win. Bob and Mike reached their third straight final on May 18 at the ATP Masters Series Hamburg in Germany but lost to No. 2 seeds Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 6-4, 5-7, 10-8.
1. Steven Cisar, Cycling - BMX
2. Tony Avezedo, Water Polo
3. Troy Dumais, Diving
1. Jenn Stuczynski, Track and Field - Pole Vault
2. Melanie Roach, Weightlifting
3. Lisa Wang, Rhythmic Gymnastics
1. USA Men's Senior National Water Polo Team
2. Elaine Youngs and Nicole Branagh, Beach Volleyball
3. Bob and Mike Bryan, Tennis