Voting for 2007 Academy Athlete of the Year underway

Starting
30 November, sports fans worldwide can vote online for the 2007 United States
Sports Academy Athlete of the Year presented by USATODAY.com and MSNBC.com.
Last year, the ballot attracted nearly half a million votes from around the
globe.

Votes will
be collected through 24 December. The ballot will be located on a website
hosted by the Academy and will be available through direct links from
USATODAY.com Sports content and the sports pages of MSNBC.com. To submit your
vote, visit http://www.usatoday.com/sports/front.htm, http://athleteoftheyear.msnbc.com
or http://www.ussa.edu/aoy/index.asp.

Media outlets and sports organizations are encouraged to link to the online
vote. For questions, please contact the Academy Communications Department at
(251) 626-3303.

The
Academy Athlete of the Year ballot is the culmination of the Academy’s yearlong
Athlete of the Month program, which recognizes the accomplishments of men and
women in sports around the globe. The Academy’s Athlete of the Month is
selected by an international voting committee comprised of former athletes,
media, sports organizations and governing bodies.

The 2007 male ballot includes Boston Red Sox
pitcher Josh Beckett, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Green Bay
Packers quarterback Brett Favre, Swiss tennis great Roger Federer, American
sprinter Tyson Gay, Ethiopian runner Haile Gebrselassie, Cleveland Cavaliers
All-Star LeBron James, NASCAR Champion Jimmy Johnson, Indianapolis Colts
quarterback Peyton Manning, San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker, American
swimming star Michael Phelps and golf superstar Tiger Woods.

This 2007 female ballot includes American swimmer Natalie Coughlin, Ethiopian
runner Meseret Defar, American sprinter Allyson Felix, Austrian skier Renate
Goetschl, Belgian tennis star Justine Henin, Russian pole vaulter Yelena
Isinbayeva, Australian basketball player Lauren Jackson, Swedish heptathlon
champion Carolina Kluft, Mexican golfer Lorena Ochoa, Norwegian golfer Suzann
Pettersen, American tennis great Venus Williams and American swimmer Kate
Ziegler.

As in years past, the athlete receiving the most votes will be named the
Academy’s Athlete of the Year. Past winners include Lance Armstrong, Roger
Federer, Mia Hamm, Michael Jordan, Annika Sorenstam and Tiger Woods. In
addition to the overall winner, a Female Athlete of the Year and Male Athlete
of the Year will be named from the athletes who receive the most votes, outside
of the overall winner, in each of the respective categories.

“There are many great athletes on the ballot this year and opening the vote to
a worldwide audience is exciting because we receive feedback from a wide range
of sports fans who will ultimately decide which athlete is best of the best,”
Academy President Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich said. “Our partners, USATODAY.com and
MSNBC.com, make it possible for this vote to reach fans online around the world
24 hours a day.”

In 2006, as the leading overall vote-getter in the combined male and female
categories, tennis sensation Roger Federer repeated as the Outstanding Athlete
of the Year. Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova received the most votes in the
women’s category, earning the 2006 Female Athlete of the Year honor. Federer
and Sharapova were presented their awards on center court at the Sony Ericsson
Open in

Miami.
Golf megastar Tiger Woods won the 2006 Male Athlete of the Year award.

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