Neben named USOC Athlete of the Month
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The U.S. Olympic Committee today named cyclist Amber Neben and sprinter Justin Gatlin as its May Athletes of the Month. The USOC Team of the Month was awarded to the USA Women's National Field Hockey Team.
Road cyclist Neben (Irvine, Calif.) successfully defended her overall title at the Tour de I'Aude on May 18, considered to be the most prestigious women's stage race in the world. After staking her claim to the yellow leader's jersey in stage nine, May 17, Neven entered the 10th and final stage with a narrow 14-second advantage over her Dutch Buitenpoort-Flexpoint teammate Susanne Ljungskog of Sweden. The overall title win was Neben's second in a row at the tour.
The reigning Olympic and World 100m champion, Gatlin (Raleigh, N.C.) tied the men's world record at the Qatar Super Grand Prix in Doha on May 12. His time of 9.77 seconds with a wind reading of +1.7 meters per second ties the record with Jamaican Asafa Powell, set in Athens on June 14, 2005.
The USA Women's National Field Hockey Team earned a spot in the 2006 World Cup with a fourth-place finish at the World Cup Qualifying Tournament in Rome. Entering the tournament as the No. 6 seed, the USA earned one of the five available world cup berths awarded at the tournament, scheduled for Sept. 27-Oct. 7 in Madrid. The USA went through pool play with a 3-1-1 record including wins over the world's No. 6-ranked team New Zealand (1-0) and host Italy (2-1), securing their seventh straight appearance at the sport's world championship tournament.
Second place for the women went to Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.), who had another successful month, winning her second world championship title within a year. Her win came at the World Sailing Games, an event organized by the International Sailing Federation and held once every four years. In the final medal race of the regatta, Railey held the advantage over the defending World Sailing Games champion after a tight competition. She is the No. 1 ranked laser radial sailor in the world by the International Sailing Federation.
Wrestling's Sara McMann (Iowa City, Iowa) took third place. She went 2-1 to lead the U.S. women's freestyle team to a third-place finish at the Women's World Cup on May 20-21. She won her two matches 6-0, 3-0 and 3-0, 7-0. Her only loss came at the hands of the 2004 Olympic champion and four-time world champion, falling 1-0, 1-0.
Second place for the men's ballot went to Sammie Henson (Flintstone, Ga.). The wrestler won the title at 55kg/121 pounds at the U.S. World Team Trials in Sioux City, Iowa, May 27-28, to earn a spot on the U.S. World Team that will compete in the World Wrestling Championships in late September. At 35 years old, he defeated 2006 U.S. Nationals champion Henry Cejudo in two straight bouts for the championship. It's Henson's second straight U.S. World Team qualification.
Triathlete Andy Potts (Colorado Springs, Colo.) took third place. A 2004 Olympian and USA Triathlon National Team member, Potts took second place at the 2006 Mazatlan International Triathlon Union World Cup event May 14 in Mazatlan, Mexico. His second-place finish moved him to No. 5 on the ITU World Cup rankings.
Sailing Team Morgan Larson (Capitola, Calif.) and Pete Spaulding (Lafayette, Ind.) finished the team ballot in second place. The duo overcame a fleet of 29 other boats to win the Holland Regatta, a major international event ranked by the International Sailing Federation as Grade 1. They took the lead on the first day and never relinquished it throughout the five-day event. On the final day of the regatta, Larson and Spaulding successfully fought off the No. 2 team in the rankings.
Capturing third place was the Women's 3-Meter Synchro Diving team of Kelci Bryant (Chatham, Ill.) and Ariel Rittenhouse (Santa Cruz, Calif.). In their first international competition together and after training together for less than a month, Bryant and Rittenhouse won a silver medal in 3-Meter Synchro at the FINA Grand Prix Canada Cup in Victoria, B.C., May 7. They scored 300.90 points to win the USA's first silver medal of the 2006 Grand Prix Series. One week later, they finished fourth at the Speedo USA Diving Grand Prix in Fort Lauderdale on May 12.
Results (first place votes in parentheses)
1. Amber Neben 24 (4)
2. Paige Railey 18 (6)
3. Sara McMann 16 (4)
Also receiving first-place votes: Marge Engle (Equestrian)
1. Justin Gatlin 37 (10)
2. Sammie Henson 16 (2)
3. Andy Potts 13 (1)
Also receiving first-place votes: Jeremy Liggett (Judo), Reo Wilde (Archery)
1. Women's National Field Hockey Team 32 (6)
2. Sailing 28 (7)
3. Synchro. Diving 23 (2)
This Article Published June 15, 2006 For more information contact: