Felicia Oh receives one of her two Grappling gold medals; National Grappling Coach Ricardo Liborio lifts one of the four World Champion trophies won by Team USA. photos by Gary Abbott, and by TheNextGreatFighter.com
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The U.S. Olympic Committee announced cyclist Sarah Hammer and biathlete Tim Burke as its December Athletes of the Month, while ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White were awarded Team of the Month honors.
Two of the nominees from USA Wrestling finished second in the final voting in their categories. Double World Grappling champion Felicia Oh (Valencia, Calif./Big John McCarthy's UTA) placed second for the Female Athlete of the Month and the 2009 U.S. Grappling World Team placed second for the Team of the Month
Earlier in the week, both Oh and won the U.S. Olympic Committee Twitter fan voting for the monthly awards for December. Oh won the USOC Twitter voting for SportsWoman of the Month, receiving 58% of the vote with 293 votes. The 2009 U.S. Grappling Team won the USOC Twitter voting for Team of the Month, receiving 66% of the votes with 161 votes.
The USOC Twitter voting counts for 10% of the selection for the monthly awards. The remaining vote is determined by a ballot including national media and members of the U.S. Olympic family.
Oh won a pair of gold medals at the FILA Grappling World Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Dec. 12-13. Grappling, also called submission wrestling, is recognized as a form of wrestling by the international wrestling federation FILA. She captured the 50 kg/110 lbs division in both the No-Gi and Gi division. On Dec. 12, Oh won a four-athlete round-robin to capture the gold medal, winning two of her three matches. On Dec. 13, she won a three-athlete round-robin, finishing with a 2-0 record. She was the only U.S. athlete in either the women's or men's divisions to win a World gold medal in both the No-Gi and Gi disciplines.
The U.S. Grappling World Team, which won the team title in all four divisions at the FILA Grappling World Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Dec. 12-13. The U.S. won both the men's and women's divisions in No-Gi Grappling Dec. 12, then captured both the men's and women's divisions in Gi Grappling, Dec. 13. The U.S. team was coached by USA Grappling National Coach Ricardo Liborio. The U.S. dominated the No-Gi division, winning five of the six men's gold medals, and adding four of the five women's gold medals.
Information on the winners of the final voting follows:
SPORTSWOMAN OF THE MONTH: Hammer (Temecula, Calif.) not only collected gold and silver medals at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Cali, Columbia, in December, but the two-time World champion clocked the third- fastest women's time in history in the three-kilometer individual pursuit. The Olympian made her return to the highest level of competition by taking the individual pursuit gold in the UCI Track Cycling World Cup's third round before taking the silver medal in the team pursuit.
SPORTSMAN OF THE MONTH: Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.), was on the podium twice in the Ostersund World Cup - second in the 20K and third in the sprint. This is the first time in history that a U.S. biathlete was on the podium twice in the same World Cup. He continued his winning streak, and he became the overall World Cup points leader, a position no other U.S. biathlete has ever achieved. The 2006 Olympian has 12 top-10 World Cup finishes and is currently ranked third in the world.
TEAM OF THE MONTH: The 2009 U.S. ice dancing champions, Davis (West Bloomfield, Mich.) and White (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), won gold at the 2009 Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Tokyo, Japan, Dec. 3-6. The Four Continents champions totaled 169.44 points, and garnering their third Grand Prix gold medal this season. The duo is competing this weekend at the 2010 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships for a spot on the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team.
The USA Wrestling nominee for SportsMan of the Month, double World Grappling champion Kelly Anundson (Columbia, S.C./Black Knight WC), did not place in the top three of the final voting. Anundson had placed second in the USOC Twitter fan voting for this award.USOC December Awards Results:Women:
1. Sarah Hammer, Cycling
2. Felicia Oh, Wrestling
3. Jun Gao, Table Tennis Team:
1. Meryl Davis/Charlie White, Ice Dancing
2. US Grappling World Team, Wrestling
3. Shauna Rohbock/Michelle Rzpeka, Bobsled Men:
1. Tim Burke, Biathlon
2. Evan Lysacek, Figure Skating
3. Michael Landers, Table Tennis