Mar 07 Popovich Wins ESPY Award

July 17, 2009, 9:43 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - In its 17th year, the ESPY Awards commemorated the most exciting moments, greatest achievements and top performances in athletics around the globe on July 15 in Los Angeles. Twenty U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes took home awards from the event which will be televised July 19 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Mimicking his golden eight-for-eight performance at the Beijing Olympic Games, 14-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps won all five of his ESPY nominations. Most notably, Phelps broke Tiger Woods' five-year streak and became the first Olympian since Michael Johnson in 1997 to win the Best Male Athlete ESPY. He also took home trophies for Best U.S. Male Olympian, Best Record Breaking Performance and Best Championship Performance for becoming the first athlete to win eight gold medals in one Olympic Games.

Phelps can also count a nod for swimming on the U.S. men's 4x100 medley relay team which won the Best Moment ESPY for its thrilling gold medal finish against France in the Beijing Games. Other relay members included Garrett Weber-Gale, Cullen Jones and Jason Lezak.

Claiming the ESPY crown for Best Female Athlete was five-time Olympic medal gymnast, Nastia Liukin. Leading her U.S. teammates to a silver medal in the Beijing Games, Liukin earned an individual gold medal in the all-around, silver medals on uneven bars and balance beam and a bronze on floor exercise.

Liukin's Olympic teammate and four-time Olympic medalist, Shawn Johnson, was named Best U.S. Female Olympian. Johnson earned an individual gold on balance beam and silvers in the all-around, floor exercise and team competition at the Beijing Olympic Games.

Five-time Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, twice retired from her sport, was given a special ESPY for Best Comback. At 41, Torres returned to competition and captured three silver medals in Beijing in the 50-meter freestyle, the 4x100 freestyle relay and the 4x100 medley relay. The haul gave her a total of 12 Olympic medals dating back to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

Another swimmer, Paralympian Erin Popovich , won the ESPY for Best Female Athlete with a Physical Disability. A three-time Paralympian, Popovich won six medals - four gold and two silver - at the 2008 Paralympic Games. Popovich also garnered an ESPY in this category in 2005.

Serena and Venus Williams served as special presenters for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award presented to Nelson Mandela. Serena, who won her second career Olympic gold medal in Beijing, won the ESPY for Best Female Tennis Player.

Olympic gold medalist snowboarder turned skateboarder turned surfer, Shaun White , picked up his fifth ESPY for Best Male Action Sport Athlete. White won the Olympic gold medal in half pipe at the 2006 Torino Games.

The ESPY for Best Upset went to the U.S. Men's Soccer team for shocking Spain in the 2008 Confederations Cup semifinals. The following U.S. Olympians were on the roster: Jozy Altidoro, Michael Bradley, Charlie Davies, Benny Feilhaber, Tim Howard and Landon Donovan.
Basketball Olympians - Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, LeBron James and Candance Parker - won ESPYs for Best Team, Best NBA Player and Best WNBA Player, respectively.

The following U.S. Olympians and Paralympians received 2009 ESPY awards:

Jozy Altidoro, Soccer (2008) - Best Upset
Michael Bradley, Soccer (2008) - Best Upset
Kobe Bryant, Basketball (2008) - Best Team
Charlie Davies, Soccer (2008) - Best Upset
Landon Donovan, Soccer (2000) - Best MLS Player; Best Upset
Benny Feilhaber , Soccer (2008) - Best Upset
Tim Howard, Soccer (2000) - Best Upset
LeBron James, Basketball (2008) - Best NBA Player
Shawn Johnson, Gymnastics (2008) - Best U.S. Female Olympian
Cullen Jones, Swimming (2008) - Best Moment (4x100 medley relay)
Jason Lezak, Swimming (2004, 2008) - Best Moment (4x100 medley relay)
Nastia Liukin, Gymnastics (2008) - Best Female Athlete
Lamar Odom, Basketball (2004) - Best Team
Candace Parker, Basketball (2008) - Best WNBA Player
Michael Phelps, Swimming (2000, 2004, 2008) - Best Male Athlete; Best U.S. Male Olympian; Best Championship Performance; Best Record Breaking Performance; Best Moment (4x100 medley relay)
Erin Popovich , Swimming (2000, 2004, 2008) - Best Female Athlete with a Physical Disability
Dara Torres, Swimming (1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2008) - Best Comeback
Garrett Weber-Gale, (2008) - Best Moment (4x100 medley relay)
Shaun White, Snowboarding (2006) - Best Male Action Sport Player
Serena Williams, Tennis (2000, 2008) - Best Female Tennis Player

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