COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Outstanding performances during the month of May earned judokas Kayla Harrison and Travis Stevens, and beach volleyball duo April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings Best of May honors for the Team USA Awards presented by Dow, the United States Olympic Committee announced today.
Harrison made history by becoming the first American judoka to win two gold medals at a world masters event. Harrison defended her title in Guadalajara, Mexico, against rival Mayra Aguiar from Brazil. The world masters is an invite-only event for the top-16 judokas in each weight class around the world. Additionally, Harrison secured her world rank as No. 1 in the -78 kg. weight class for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Stevens, a two-time Olympian in the -81 kg. weight class, made history for USA Judo, becoming the first American male judoka to bring home gold from a world masters event. The invite-only tournament was the final chance to earn points toward the world rankings list, which is the basis for Olympic qualification. The win helped propel Stevens’ world rank from No. 12 to No. 5, thereby earning a seeded position at the Rio 2016 Games
Ross and Walsh Jennings won their third and fourth gold medals of the Olympic qualifying season, extending their gold medal-winning streak to three consecutive with top finishes in Cincinnati and Moscow. The pair are the top-ranked U.S. women's team and third in the FIVB’s provisional Olympic qualifying rankings, which close June 13. The duo defeated Brazil, currently ranked No. 1, for the first time ever at the Moscow Grand Slam.
Each National Governing Body may nominate one female, one male and one team per discipline. An internal nominating committee selects five nominees from both the male and female categories, and three from the team category to advance to the voting round. Votes received from NGB representatives and select members of the media account for 50 percent of the final tally, with the other half determined by online fan voting via TeamUSA.org/Awards.
In addition to Dow, the presenting sponsor, the Team USA Awards are supported by Coca-Cola, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Kellogg’s, Samsung and USG.