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Which World Champion Will Emerge As Male Olympic Athlete Of The Year?

By Karen Price | Oct. 24, 2019, 5:13 p.m. (ET)


Nathan Chen, Caeleb Dressel, Brady Ellison, Vincent Hancock and Noah Lyles accomplished things this season that put them in the highest echelon of their respective sports.

From world titles to multiple world titles to massive margins of victory to shattered world records, these five athletes ended the season on top.

But who deserves to be crowned Male Olympic Athlete of the Year in the 2019 Team USA Awards, presented by Dow, Best of the Year?

You have a say.

Online fan voting accounts for 50 percent of the vote and closes end of day Monday, Oct. 28. The other 50 percent of the vote comes from members of the Olympic and Paralympic community. Award winners will be announced during a ceremony held on Nov. 19 at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. NBC will provide coverage of the awards show from 3-4 p.m. ET on Dec. 22.

Download the Team USA app today to keep up with Team USA Awards and all your favorite sports, plus access to videos, Olympic and Paralympic team bios, and more.

Voting is open now at TeamUSA.org/Awards. Here’s a closer look at the five nominees for Male Olympic Athlete of the Year.


Nathan Chen


Sport: Figure skating

Age: 20

Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah

What He Did: Chen started off the 2018-19 season by winning the Internationaux de France and Skate America, where he topped the field by 41.06 points for the largest margin of victory in Skate America history. He won the Grand Prix Final title for the second year in a row, then went on to win his third consecutive national title. Saving the best for last, Chen won the world title for the second year in a row.

Why It Mattered: The last time a U.S. man won back-to-back world championships was when Scott Hamilton captured four titles between 1981 and 1984. Chen is also the first U.S. man to win two Grand Prix Final titles, and set a new record for highest margin of victory at the national championships at 58.21 points.

Fun Fact: Chen is a sophomore at Yale University, where he’s considering majoring in statistics and data science.

What’s Next: Chen kicked off this season with a third straight Skate America victory and next he’ll compete at the Internationaux de France beginning Nov. 1. In 2020 he could become the first man since Canada’s Patrick Chan in 2011-2013 to win three consecutive world titles.


Caeleb Dressel


Sport: Swimming

Age: 23

Hometown: Green Cove Springs, Florida

What He Did: Dressel won six gold (50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle, 50-meter butterfly, 100-meter butterfly, mixed 4x100 and men’s 4x100-meter freestyle) and two silver (4x100-meter mixed and men’s 4x100-meter medley) medals at the long course world championships, set an American record in the 100-meter freestyle and world record in the 100-meter butterfly and mixed 4x100-meter, and was named Male Swimmer of the Meet. He also won six gold and three silver medals at the 2018 short course world championships.

Why It Mattered: No one had ever won eight medals at a single long course world championships before Dressel. He also repeated history by winning three gold medals in one night, matching his jaw-dropping accomplishment in 2017.

Fun Fact: Dressel was born Aug. 16, 1996, 12 days after the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996.

What’s Next: Dressel is swimming for the Cali Condors of the new International Swimming League. Also, the next stop in the TYR Pro Swim Series, in which Dressel is entered, will take place Nov. 4 in Greensboro, North Carolina.


Brady Ellison


Sport: Archery

Age: 30 (31 on Oct. 27)

Hometown: Globe, Arizona

What He Did: Ellison had about as good a season as possible, most notably winning the world championship title. His season also included winning seven world cup medals (three golds and one bronze medal individually, two bronze medals in men’s team and one silver medal in mixed team), an unprecedented fifth career World Cup Final gold medal, as well as gold in mixed team and bronze in men’s team at the Pan American Games. He also set a new world record for the men’s recurve 72-arrow 70-meter ranking round at the Pan American Games when he scored 702 points.

Why It Mattered: A veteran of three Olympic Games and winner of three medals, Ellison had never won a world championship title until this year, and he’s the first U.S. man to capture the title since Richard McKinney in 1985. Ellison also earned the U.S. an Olympic quota spot in the process. 
Fun Fact: Ellison loves to cook and says his specialty is biscuits and gravy.

What’s Next: Ellison is in the middle of the qualifying process to make his fourth Olympic team and leads the men’s rankings after two of four stages. The third stage will take place April 8-11, 2020, in Chula Vista, California.


Vincent Hancock


Sport: Shooting

Age: 30

Hometown: Eatonton, Georgia

What He Did: With the 2018 men’s skeet world title on the line, Hancock had a perfect score in qualification, hitting 125 of 125 targets, despite competing in the pouring rain, then missed just once in the final to tie a record and win gold for the fourth time. This year he won world cup gold medals in both Acapulco, Mexico, where he equaled the perfect score in qualification as well as a finals record by going 60 for 60 and won his 20th career world cup gold, as well as Changwon, South Korea.

Why It Mattered: Hancock is the first person ever to own four skeet world championship titles. His performance at that event also nabbed an Olympic quota spot for the U.S.

Fun Fact: Hancock is a former sergeant in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit who earned the National Defense Service Medal, The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Distinguished International Shooter Badge.

What’s Next: Trying to secure his fourth trip to the Olympic Games for the chance to win his third medal (gold in 2008 and 2012). Hancock led after the fall selection stage of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun. The spring selection will be held Feb. 25-March 8 in Tucson, Arizona.


Noah Lyles


Sport: Track and field

Age: 22

Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia

What He Did: In his world championships debut, Lyles won the 200-meter title with a time of 19.83 seconds as well as gold in the 4x100-meter. Lyles also won the Diamond Trophy in both the 100-meter and 200-meter.

Why It Mattered: Lyles is the first U.S. man to win the 200-meter world title since 2007, and also the youngest ever to do so. He’s the first man ever to win the Diamond Trophy in both the 100-meter and 200-meter. This year he also became the first man to break 19.8 seconds in the 200-meter five times in one year — Usain Bolt and Lyles did it four times — and his time of 19.50 at the Diamond League Lausanne on July 5 made him the fourth-fastest man in history and the fastest since Bolt when he won the gold medal at the Olympic Games London 2012.

Fun Fact: Lyles has a collection of superhero and comic book socks he wears to meets and the silver hair he sported at the world championships was inspired by a Dragon Ball Z character.

What’s Next: Everything is leading up to Tokyo 2020, where Lyles will attempt to become a double-sprint champion in both the 100 and 200-meter.


Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Nathan Chen

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Caeleb Dressel

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Brady Ellison

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Vincent Hancock

Shotgun Shooting