COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee today announced the 30 finalists for the 2019 Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of the Year, which recognize the outstanding achievements of Team USA athletes year-round. Fans are invited to vote for their favorite athletes and teams at through midnight Monday, Oct. 28.


The Team USA Awards honor athletes and teams of the year in six categories:

  • Female Olympic Athlete of the Year 
  • Male Olympic Athlete of the Year 
  • Olympic Team of the Year, presented by Dow
  • Female Paralympic Athlete of the Year
  • Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year
  • Paralympic Team of the Year, presented by Dow 


Athletes and teams considered for Best of the Year were finalists for Best of the Month honors, dating back to the fall of 2018 and coinciding with the sport calendar. A USOPC nominating committee then selected the top-five finalists in the individual and team categories to advance to the voting round.

Online fan voting at accounts for 50 percent of the final tally, while members of the Olympic and Paralympic community – including an esteemed panel of Olympic and Paralympic journalists – account for the other 50 percent. 

The six award winners will be announced during the 2019 Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of the Year, held on Nov. 19 at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. NBC will provide coverage of the awards show from 2-3 p.m. ET on Dec. 22.

The year-end celebration will also recognize the Jesse Owens Olympic Spirit Award – which recognizes an individual who has served as a powerful force for good in society, inspiring others by contributing to a better world, uniting people or leading a cause, honoring an individual, group or community that has gone above and beyond in its support of Team USA. Additionally, the awards gala will recognize national Olympic and Paralympic coaches of the year. National Governing Bodies select their nominees as part of the USOPC’s annual Coach of the Year Recognition Program, and winners are determined by a USOPC selection panel of coaching and sport performance professionals.

The Dow Chemical Company has been a presenting sponsor of the Team USA Awards since 2015. 


The 2019 Best of the Year finalists include:


Female Olympic Athlete of the Year

Simone Biles (Spring, Texas), Gymnastics
Won five gold medals at the 2019 world championships – more than any gymnast at a single worlds since 1958 – for her 25th career world medal, two more than any gymnast in history; also became the first woman since 1952 to win a sixth U.S. all-around title; and completed two skills never performed by a female gymnast in competition: a double-double dismount on beam and a triple-double on floor.


Adeline Gray (Denver, Colorado), Wrestling
Became the first American wrestler to earn five senior world titles, winning the 76 kg. division title at the world championships to improve to seven career world medals overall, and also defeated reigning Olympic champion to claim her second straight gold medal at the Pan American Championships, earning Most Outstanding Wrestler of the event.


Simone Manuel (Sugar Land, Texas), Swimming

Captured the most medals by a woman at a single long course world championship with seven podium finishes, winning gold in the 50-meter freestyle and 100 freestyle – becoming the first American woman to win both events and setting an American record in the 100 freestyle in the process – and earning medals in all five relays in which she competed, with gold in the 4x100 mixed freestyle and 4x100 medley, and silver in the 4x100 freestyle, 4x200 freestyle and 4x100 mixed medley.


Dalilah Muhammad (Bayside, New York), Track and Field
After winning the national championship in the 400-meter hurdles with a run that broke a 16-year world record, went on to break her own world record with a win at the world championships, while also earning a second world title as a member of the women’s 4x400-meter team.


Mikaela Shiffrin (Avon, Colorado), Alpine Skiing 
Podiumed in 21 of 26 world cup races and earned 17 victories – the most by any skier in a single season – to improve her career total to 60 world cup wins and become the first athlete – male or female – in the history of the sport to win all six alpine disciplines; and finished her season by claiming four of five crystal globes as world cup season champion,  and winning three medals (two golds and one bronze) at the world championships, becoming the first skier in history to win four consecutive world titles in the same event with her slalom title. 


Male Olympic Athlete of the Year

Nathan Chen (Salt Lake City, Utah), Figure Skating

Won the 2019 world title to become the first U.S. man since 1984 to win back-to-back world championships; became the first U.S. man to win two Grand Prix Final titles (2017, 2018), after securing wins at the Internationaux de France and Skate America, where he topped the field by 41.06 points – the largest margin in Skate America history; and won his third consecutive U.S. national title, smashing the U.S. record for the highest margin of victory at 58.21 points.


Caeleb Dressel (Green Cove Springs, Florida), Swimming
Earned eight medals – including six golds and two silvers – at the 2019 long course world championships, becoming the first swimmer in history to win eight medals at the event and earning Male Swimmer of the Meet after breaking the world record in the 100-meter butterfly; and led the U.S. men with nine medals – including six golds and three silvers – at the 2018 short course world championships, setting American records in the 50 and 100 freestyle events.


Brady Ellison (Globe, Arizona), Archery

Became the first U.S. man since 1985 to win the individual world championship title; captured seven medals at the world cup – including three golds and one bronze in individual, two bronzes in men’s team, and one silver in mixed team; and earned gold in mixed team and bronze in men’s team at the Pan American Games.

Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Georgia), Shooting
After winning the 2018 men’s skeet world title – his fourth, more than any men’s skeet shooter in history – with a perfect score in qualification and tying the world record in the final, won two world cup gold medals, which again included tying both the qualification and finals world records.


Noah Lyles (Gainesville, Florida), Track and Field

Won the 200-meter at the 2019 world championships – capturing the first title in the event for Team USA since 2007 and becoming the youngest ever to do so in history – while also earning gold in the 4x100-meter to cap a season in which he became the first man ever to win both the 100- and 200-meter Diamond Trophies.


Olympic Team of the Year, presented by Dow

U.S. World Equestrian Games Jumping Team, Equestrian
Won a historic gold medal at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, marking the first world title for the U.S. since 1986, which secured a national team quota spot for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.


U.S. Women’s World Cup Team, Soccer
Went undefeated – including earning a historic 13-0 victory against Thailand – to win back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cups, marking the team’s fourth World Cup win, the most of any nation.  


U.S. Women’s National Team, Softball
Finished the 2018 international season with a 20-0 record and No. 1 world ranking, winning the world championships to become the first U.S. team to secure a spot for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020; also won the 2019 international cup, Japan Cup and Pan American Games – becoming the first softball team to win nine Pan American Games titles.


U.S. Women’s National Team, Water Polo
Sealed its historic third consecutive world title in 2019 – a first for any country of either gender – to continue the longest win streak in the Olympic era of women’s water polo; also claimed the gold medal at the 2018 FINA World Cup, won the 2019 FINA World League Super Final to qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and clinched the gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games.


U.S. Men’s 4x100-meter Team, Track and Field

The team of Christian Coleman, Justin Gatlin, Mike Rodgers and Noah Lyles took gold in the 4x100-meter with an American record time at the 2019 world championships, becoming the first U.S. men’s team to win the title since 2007.


Female Paralympic Athlete of the Year

Kendall Gretsch (Downers Grove, Illinois), Para Nordic Skiing and Paratriathlon

Won five medals at the Nordic skiing world championships – one gold, four silvers and one bronze – and secured the overall world cup biathlon globe; in paratriathlon, claimed a silver medal in the women’s PTS1 division at the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships.


Oksana Masters (Louisville, Kentucky), Para Nordic Skiing and Para-cycling

Captured five world titles and six total medals at the Nordic skiing world championships before claiming the overall world cup cross-country globe in the women's sitting class; in cycling, ended the year with a pair of silver medals at the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in the H5 road race and time trial.


Allysa Seely (Glendale, Arizona), Paratriathlon

Captured gold at the 2019 world series in Montreal, Quebec, – her seventh consecutive win in ITU paratriathlon competition – making her undefeated for over a year, before earning her fifth consecutive world podium finish in the women’s PTS2 division, with a silver at the 2019 ITU Paratriathlon World Championships.


Leanne Smith (Salem, Massachusetts) Para Swimming

In her world championship debut, won three gold medals and set three Pan American records, after additionally earning three medals at the world series event in Glasgow, Scotland, and winning five national titles.


Deja Young (Mesquite, Texas) Para Track and Field

Captured the No. 1 ranking in the world in the T47 100- and 200-meter events, with two grand prix victories and three gold medals from the Parapan American Games Lima 2019, topping the podium in Peru with victories in the 100, 200 and universal 4x100. 


Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year

Joe Berenyi (Aurora, Illinois), Para-cycling

Claimed three medals – one of each color – at the 2019 track world championships in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, including his fifth straight world title in the MC3 kilo time trial, and went on to win three medals at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019.


Noah Elliott (St. Charles, Missouri), Para Snowboarding

Captured his first world title in snowboardcross at the 2019 world championships in Pyha, Finland, while also earning a bronze medal in the snowboardcross team event, to wrap up a season that also included a gold medal in the men’s LL1 banked slalom at the world cup.


Robert Griswold (Freehold, New Jersey) Para Swimming
Took home four medals – including two golds and two silvers – at the 2019 world championships, highlighted by Pan American records in the SM8 200-meter individual medley and the S8 400 freestyle, in addition to setting a world record earlier in the year in the S8 50 backstroke.


Daniel Romanchuk (Mount Airy, Maryland), Para Track and Field
Dominated both on the roads and the track as he was undefeated at the major marathons with 2018 wins in Chicago and New York, and 2019 wins in Boston and London; on the track, bested his own world record and claimed gold in the T54 5,000-meter at the grand prix in Nottwil, Switzerland.


Ben Thompson (Ladson, South Carolina), Para Archery
Upset the world No.1 archer to win gold in the individual men’s compound event at the 2019 world championships in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, also helping Team USA to a world record in the compound men’s open team ranking round and ending the season with a No. 1 world ranking.


Paralympic Team of the Year, presented by Dow

U.S. World Championship Men’s Recurve Open Team, Para Archery

Team of Eric Bennett, Michael Lukow and Timothy Palumbo won the men’s recurve open team title in a run that included a win over top-seeded China at the 2019 world championships in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.


U.S. Parapan American Women’s Team, Sitting Volleyball

Won the gold medal at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019 to defend its Parapan American title with a dominant tournament performance, dropping just one of 16 sets to go undefeated in all five games. 


U.S. National Team, Sled Hockey

Secured the gold medal at the 2019 world championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic, going undefeated for the second time in tournament history en route to capturing its fourth world title; also earned an unprecedented fifth straight Para Hockey Cup with its 2018 win, marking its record-setting seventh title at the competition.


U.S. Parapan American Men’s Team, Wheelchair Basketball

Qualified for the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 with a decisive semifinal win over Argentina, 67-36, before going on to defeat Canada in the gold-medal game to finish the tournament undefeated, outscoring its opponents 471-217. 


U.S. Parapan American Team, Wheelchair Rugby

Improved upon its 2015 silver-medal performance to defeat Canada, 58-47, in the Parapan American Games Lima 2019 gold-medal match to go undefeated throughout the tournament and punch its ticket for the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.