USA Triathlon Announces 2007 Elite Athletes of the Year
January 28, 2008
From press release.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (January 28, 2008) -- USA Triathlon is pleased to announce the recipients of its annual elite athlete awards for 2007 as selected by the USAT Athlete Advisory Council.
Highlighting the list are Olympic/ITU Triathletes of the Year Andy Potts and Laura Bennett, both repeat selections from 2006. Potts was also named Multisport Non-ITU Athlete of the Year, along with Jamie Whitmore. Rookies of the Year Awards (first pro race was in 2007) went to Tyler Stewart and Eric Limkemann.
Male Olympic/ITU Triathlete of the Year Male Multisport Non-ITU Athlete of the Year Andy Potts (Princeton, N.J. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)
It was quite a year for Potts who earned his first USAT Elite National title with a win at the Honolulu Triathlon and followed that with a gold medal at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and an 11th place finish at the ITU World Championship in Hamburg, Germany. But he also impressed beyond the Olympic distance with wins at Escape from Alcatraz, the California 70.3, and closed the year by claiming the title at the 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater, Fla.
"It is always an honor to receive awards but it is never my intention when I set my goals for the year. Awards come from others recognizing my efforts," said Potts. "To be awarded Triathlete of the Year is an honor that comes from my peers as well as people in the know in the sport. To have the respect of the athletes that I race against as well as the coaches and officials in triathlon makes what I'm doing even that much more special."
"The kind of diversity that Andy demonstrated in 2007 to win a Pan Am Games Gold medal at the Olympic distance draft-legal format and also a half-Ironman (70.3) world title has not been seen since Karen Smyers won ITU Worlds, Pan Am Games and Ironman Hawaii in the same year in 1995, but that was before draft-legal racing," said USAT Sport Performance Director Scott Schnitzspahn. "With the specialization that occurs with the top athletes now, Andy's performances in 2007 were truly amazing."
Female Olympic/ITU Triathlete of the Year Laura Bennett (N. Palm Beach, Fla. / Boulder, Colo.)
For Bennett, 2007 was equally impressive, as she captured a World Cup win - and $200,000 prize purse - at the inaugural Hy-Vee Triathlon in Des Moines, Iowa. She earned her fourth podium in five years with a third place finish at the ITU World Championship in Hamburg, Germany, and closed the campaign in style by securing her slot on the U.S. Olympic Team by placing third at the ITU BG Beijing World Cup. She finished the year ranked 7th in the ITU World Cup rankings.
"Winning Hy-Vee, being on the podium at worlds, and taking the first Olympic spot were the goals I set out for myself at the beginning of the season," said Bennett. "Honestly to achieve what you planned to do is amazing, and winning 2007 Female Olympic / ITU Triathlete of Year is just icing on the cake."
"Laura is so consistent and has been getting better and better every year," said Schnitzspahn. "She showed that she is one of the very best in the world with her performances in 2007 and a legitimate gold medal threat at the Beijing Olympics this summer."
Female Multisport Non-ITU Athlete of the Year Jamie Whitmore (Mount Aukum, Calif.)
Whitmore continues to reign among Americans on the off-road circuit. She won both the XTERRA USA Championship (breaking the three-hour mark) and the XTERRA USA Point Series, while capturing first place at three XTERRA regional championships and finishing second in another. She also claimed the XTERRA Japan Championship and finished third in the XTERRA World Championship.
"It is an absolute honor to win this award, especially when you consider all of the talented athletes I was up against," said Whitmore. "As a triathlete I am just blessed to be recognized for doing something I love!"
Male Rookie of the Year Eric Limkemann (Dayton, Ohio)
Limkemann was a busy man in 2007, garnering numerous top-10 finishes. He finished ninth overall at St. Anthony's, first at Westchester, sixth at New York City, fourth at Chicago and seventh and eighth, respectively, at ITU Continental Cups in Ixtapa, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
"I went into the season only looking to improve on my times from last year and hopefully not embarrass myself in some of the bigger races. I was confident in my swim, but wasn't sure where I could finish after that," said Limkemann. "Having a good result at St. Anthony's really gave me confidence for the rest of the season. I remember looking over and seeing some of the big names in the sport only a mile from the bike finish. I remember thinking 1) I can hang with these guys. They look as tired as I am... 2) I better learn to run!
"Winning this award is great and it gives me a bit more motivation to train hard and avoid a sophomore slump. I'm looking to compete in bigger races this year including some World Cup races. I feel like I belong in the races now instead of just being happy to be there. Hopefully I still feel this way at the end of the season."
Female Rookie of the Year Tyler Stewart (Novato, Calif.)
Stewart's first year as an elite was highlighted by a win at the Cancun 70.3 (in 4:26:37) and a second overall (first American) at Ironman Lake Placid. She also grabbed third overall (first American) at Ironman Florida (which included the fastest ever bike split) and a sixth-place finish at Wildflower Long Course.
"This award only makes me smile and makes me feel lucky that I have success in something that I love to do," said Stewart. About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the national governing body for triathlon - the fastest growing sport in the U.S. - as well as duathlon, aquathlon and winter triathlon in the United States. USAT sanctions 2,300 races and connects with more than 100,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USAT provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including World Championships, Pan American Games, and the Olympic Games. Website: http://www.usatriathlon.org