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5 Of Team USA’s All-Time Greats Battle It Out For Female Olympic Athlete Of The Year

By Karen Price | Oct. 28, 2019, 3:56 p.m. (ET)


The women nominated for Female Olympic Athlete of the Year in the 2019 Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of the Year, are among the biggest names in their sports and enjoy worldwide recognition.

When Simone Biles, Adeline Gray, Simone Manuel, Dalilah Muhammad and Mikaela Shiffrin step up to compete, whether it’s on snow, in the water, on a mat or on a track, everyone else needs to bring their “A” games or they won’t stand a chance. In some cases, even that won’t be enough.

But whose performance over the last year was the best?

You can help decide.

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 all your favorite sports, plus access to videos, Olympic and Paralympic team bios, and more.

Vote now at TeamUSA.org/Awards. Here’s more about the five women nominated for Female Olympic Athlete of the Year.


Simone Biles


Sport: Gymnastics

Age: 22

Hometown: Spring, Texas

What She Did: Won five gold medals at the 2019 world championships, including her fifth all-around title in five tries, more than any other gymnast at one world championships since 1958. Her other golds were in team, floor exercise, balance beam and vault. She also became the first woman since 1952 to win a sixth U.S. national title.

Why It Mattered: Biles is now the most decorated gymnast in world championships history with a total of 25 medals, two more than any man or woman in history. Nineteen of those medals are gold. She further made her mark on the sport by completing two new skills never performed by a female gymnast in competition: a double-double dismount on beam and a triple-double on floor.

Fun Fact: Biles’ super-supportive boyfriend Stacey Ervin Jr., himself a former gymnast, wore a shirt with a goat on it – representing the fact that she is the Greatest Of All Time – during the U.S. championships. She recently posted an Instagram photo with Ervin at a pumpkin patch with the caption, “I FALL for you every time."

What’s Next: With competition wrapped up for the season, Biles will have some downtime before competition ramps back up and the U.S. begins its selection process for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team. Needless to say, fans can expect to see her in Tokyo.


Adeline Gray


Sport: Wrestling

Age: 28

Hometown: Denver, Colorado

What She Did: The 2016 Olympian won her second world title in a row and her fifth overall in the 76 kg. division, bringing her total world medal haul to seven. She also beat reigning Olympic champion Erica Wiebe of Canada in the quarterfinals at the Pan American Championships and went on to win her second straight gold medal at that event. She was named Most Outstanding Wrestler of the competition.

Why It Mattered: Gray now has more senior world titles than any wrestler in U.S. history, and trails only Kristie Davis’ nine medals (1996-2007) for the most overall. She’s also 5-for-5 in world championship finals.

Fun Fact: Gray is an assistant wrestling coach for the girls’ team at Wyoming Seminary, the only female high school wrestling program in Pennsylvania and one that is supported by USA Wrestling as an accelerated, elite development program.

What’s Next: Gray was hampered by a shoulder injury at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and fell in the quarterfinals. She earned the U.S. an Olympic quota spot in her class at the world championships and will try to claim the spot for a return trip at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling, April 4-5, 2020.


Simone Manuel


Sport: Swimming

Age: 23

Hometown: Sugar Land, Texas

What She Did: After winning six medals at the long course world championships in 2017 to share the title for most ever with seven other women, Manuel moved into sole possession of the record for most in one meet this year with seven medals. That included gold in the 50-meter freestyle and a successful defense of her title in the 100 freestyle plus medals in all five relay events she entered including gold in the mixed 4x100 freestyle and the women’s 4x100 medley.

Why It Mattered: She’s the first American woman to sweep the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle events and also set an American record in the 100-meter.

Fun Fact: Manuel appears on behalf of the USA Swimming Foundation with LeBron James’ I PROMISE School in Akron, Ohio, and her contract with TYR has an inclusion rider to help provide opportunities to traditionally under-represented groups.

What’s Next: Manuel is on the entry list for the next TYR Pro Swim Series event taking place Nov. 6-9 in Greensboro, North Carolina. She has plans to compete in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter freestyle at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Swimming.


Dalilah Muhammad


Sport: Track and field

Age: 29

Hometown: Bayside, New York

What She Did: She won her fourth national title in the 400-meter hurdles and broke a 16-year-old world title in the process with a time of 52.20 seconds. She then went to the world championships and not only won the gold medal but also broke her own world record with a time of 52.16 seconds. She won her second world title as a member of the women’s 4x400-meter team.

Why It Mattered: With pressure from U.S. teammate Sydney McLaughlin, the reigning Olympic champion proved she’s still the one to beat by not only winning the national title but also the world title and breaking her own record.

Fun Fact: Muhammad is just the second women’s 400-meter hurdler in history to win an Olympic gold medal, a world title and break a world record.

What’s Next: The 2019 outdoor season is over, but everything now will be leading up to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track and Field, taking place June 19-28 in order to earn the chance to defend her title in Tokyo.


Mikaela Shiffrin


Sport: Alpine skiing

Age: 24

Hometown: Eagle-Vail, Colorado

What She Did: Shiffrin was on the podium for 21 out of 26 world cup races and won 17 of them to bring her career total to 60 world cup victories. She ended the season by winning four of five crystal globes to finish as the world cup season champion and also won two golds and one bronze medal at the world championships.

Why It Mattered: Her 17 wins is the most by any skier in one season and she’s now the first athlete, man or woman, to win a world cup race in all six alpine disciplines. She’s also the first skier in history to win four straight world titles in the same event (she did it in slalom) and became the youngest skier to reach 50 world cup victories. Her 60 wins is fifth-most all-time and third-most by a woman.

Fun Fact: Shiffrin joined the Air Force Thunderbirds and ride along in an F-16 during the offseason and was bestowed the call sign “Wiggles.”

What’s Next: After officially kicking off the 2019-20 competition season with a second-place finish in giant slalom in Austria over the weekend, the U.S. ski team will have one last training camp before resuming competition with the first slalom race of the season on Nov. 23 in Levi, Finland.


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.

Related Athletes

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Simone Biles

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Simone Manuel

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Dalilah Muhammad

Track and Field
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Mikaela Shiffrin

Alpine Skiing