Miami Heat forward LeBron James, who led his team on a 27-game win streak, and South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na, who won the world championships, were chosen as the United States Sports Academy’s March Athletes of the Month in worldwide online voting.
James, an American basketball player, finished with 32 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 4 blocks in the Miami Heat’s loss to the Chicago Bulls, which ended Miami’s win streak at 27 games. During the streak, LeBron led his team in every way, averaging 27.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists to lead the Heat. In addition, James’ shooting percentage was a whopping 57.5 percent.
Meanwhile, Yu-na returned to the world stage in figure skating after a two year layoff. The 2010 Olympic gold medalist picked up where she left off earning the gold medal in the women’s 2013 World Figure Skating Championships. The 22-year-old earned a total of 218.31 points, beating her nearest opponent by a 20-point margin, which is the largest victory at worlds since the current scoring system took effect in 2005.
The public is invited to participate in the worldwide Athlete of the Month nomination and ballot voting processes. Visit the Academy website at www.ussa.edu to submit your nominations each month, and then return to the website during the first two weeks of each month to vote for the male and female Athletes of the Month. The votes along with an Academy committee choose the winners who become candidates for the Athlete of the Year. The monthly and yearly winners are announced on the Academy’s website and in the sports university’s online edition of The Sport Update.
Finishing second in the men’s category was American golfer Tiger Woods, who returned to No. 1 in the world golf rankings after falling from the top spot in October 2010, or about 29 months ago. Woods, who
had spent 623 weeks at No. 1, catapulted atop the ranking after his victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He now has eight titles at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, equaling Sam Snead for the most titles ever at a single tournament. Woods has won three tournaments this season.
The runner-up to Yu-na on the women’s ballot was American pole vaulter Jenn Suhr. She set the women’s pole vault indoor world record when she cleared 16 feet, 5 ½ inches at the USA Track & Field Indoor National Championships in Albuquerque, N.M. The record was previously held by Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, who cleared 16-5 ¼ a year ago. It was the sixth straight national title for Suhr and seventh overall.
Third place winners for March were South Korean speedskater Sin Da-woon, who was crowned the men’s overall champion at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships; and Slovenian skier Tina Maze, who had 11 World Cup victories to set the record for overall points with a total of 2,414.
James and Yu-na are now eligible for the Academy’s male and female 2013 Athlete of the Year Award. For the 29th consecutive year, the Academy will oversee the worldwide online voting that will take place in December. This prestigious award is currently done in conjunction with NBC Sports.
In 2012, the male Athlete of the Year was Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who became the first man ever to win both the 100- and 200-meter races in successive Olympics. The female Athlete of the Year was American tennis player Serena Williams, who became the singles champion at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Olympics. Both Olympians dominated 2012’s online ballot in December, which drew tens of thousands of votes a day from across the world.