By Todd Kortemeier | Nov. 11, 2019, 6:45 p.m. (ET)
(L-R) The U.S. women's softball team, Andrew Abruzzo, Chloé Dygert, Nathan Adrian and Evita Griskenas were nominated for the inaugural Panam Sports Awards.

 

Just what are the Panam Sports Awards, you ask? For Team USA fans, it’s another opportunity to recognize some of the best athletes in the country.

The inaugural awards honor the best and most inspirational performances from the Pan American Games Lima 2019, held this past July and August in Peru. Five Team USA athletes or teams are nominated in five different categories: Andrew Abruzzo (NextGen Under-20 Male), Nathan Adrian (Panam Sports Values), Chloé Dygert (Best Female Athlete), Evita Griskenas (NextGen Under-20 Female) and the U.S. women’s softball team (Best Women’s Team).

Fans can vote for their choice at www.panamsports.org/vote now through Nov. 30. The winners will be announced at the Panam Sports Awards ceremony on Dec. 13 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Swimmer Abruzzo earned a nomination in the NextGen category because at 19, he’s hoping to become the next big thing in the pool. He’s off to a good start with three individual gold medals in Lima, the most of any male swimmer at the Games. Abruzzo took home gold in the 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter freestyle.

The Panam Sports Values award recognizes an athlete who “went above and beyond to exhibit sportsmanship while displaying the Panam Sports Values of Excellence, Integrity, Solidarity and Inclusion.” Less than a year after receiving a cancer diagnosis, five-time Olympic gold medalist Adrian was back in the pool in Lima. While the award is about more than winning, Adrian did that too, winning five medals, the most of any male athlete at the Games.

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Dygert was part of the U.S. cycling team that won seven gold medals at the Pan American Games. The Olympic medalist won one of those herself, a gold in road cycling’s time trial, and another, also gold, as part of the women’s pursuit team on the track. The medals were the first at the Pan American Games for the 22-year-old.

Another next generation athlete to watch is rhythmic gymnast Evita Griskenas. The 18-year-old won gold medals in all-around, hoop, ribbon and ball, and a bronze medal in clubs. She was the most decorated athlete in any sport Lima.

The U.S. women’s softball team is firing on all cylinders as softball’s return to the Olympic Games approaches next summer. The team has been busy winning essentially all there is to win in the sport, including the gold medal in Lima with a dominating performance. Team USA went 7-1 and allowed only six runs in winning its record ninth Pan Am title.

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.