Farmer, Sweeney and Whitmore honored at 2014 ESPY Awards

By U.S. Olympic Committee | July 17, 2014, 12:30 a.m. (ET)
Declan Farmer
Declan Farmer, a 16-year-old sled hockey player, won the 2014 ESPY for Best Male Athlete with a Disability.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A host of U.S. Olympians and Paralympians were recognized tonight at The 2014 ESPYS, held at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles with Paralympic gold medalists Declan Farmer and Josh Sweeney joining Rio 2016 Paralympic Games hopeful Jamie Whitmore in the spotlight. Determined by fan votes, Farmer won the Best Male Athlete with a Disability for his performance with the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team while Whitmore, a cyclist, claimed the Best Female Athlete with a Disability.

In its 22nd year, the ESPYS – short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly – commemorate the most exciting moments, greatest achievements and top performances in athletics around the globe.

At the recent 2014 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, Whitmore took first place in the time trial and pursuit events, setting world records en route to both gold medals. In the 2013 UCI Road World Cup series, she was undefeated in competition as she won all six C3 road race and time trial events, and at the world championships, she also swept her class and won gold in both the road race and time trial. A hopeful for the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team in cycling, this is her first ESPYS win.

She topped triathlete Minda Dentler, cross-country skier Oksana Masters, cross-country skier and wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden and alpine skier Laurie Stephens. Masters, McFadden and Stephens all medaled at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

At the 2014 Games, 16-year-old Farmer posted two goals and one assist in Team USA’s 3-0 win against Canada to secure a spot in the gold-medal game versus Russia. Farmer also notched one goal and one assist in Team USA’s 5-1 win over Italy. For its gold medal-winning performance, the U.S. team was named Team of the Paralympic Games at the United States Olympic Committee’s inaugural Best of U.S. awards this April. This his first ESPYS win.

Declan was nominated with alpine skier Mark Bathum, wheelchair racer Raymond Martin and snowboarders Mike Shea and Evan Strong. While Martin won five medals at the International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships, Bathum, Shea and Strong medaled in Sochi.

Additionally, sled hockey player Josh Sweeney – who scored the gold medal-winning goal in Team USA’s 1-0 victory over Russia at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games – received the inaugural Pat Tillman Award for Service. A special honor created by ESPN and the Pat Tillman Foundation in honor of former NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger Pat Tillman, the award recognizes an individual with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the Tillman legacy. 

"This is a tremendous honor and, hopefully, this award will help others like me realize that nothing is impossible without hard work and dedication,” Sweeney said. “Organizations like the Pat Tillman Foundation are amazing and being honored by them is extremely humbling."

An able-bodied ice hockey player in high school, Sweeney was drawn to sled hockey while rehabbing an injury he received from an improvised explosive device in October 2009 while serving as a sniper in the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan. He later received a Purple Heart for his service. 

The 2014 ESPYS nominees, first announced June 24, featured 30 U.S. Olympians and eight Paralympians in 16 categories.