And the Sportsman of the Year award goes to . . . Michael Phelps! After winning a record-breaking eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics and breaking seven world records (some were on relay teams) while doing so, this award really comes as no surprise. He seriously deserves it.
Every year Sports Illustrated presents the award to an athlete or an entire team it feels deserving, after a stellar year of athletic performance as well as sportsmanship. Phelps's quest for eight golds and the US relay team upset in the 100m relay moved swimming, an often marginalized sport, to center stage this Summer during the first week of the Olympic games. He astounded America with his high-calorie diet and his deal with McDonald's. Gold medals and big money endorsements aside, we all know Michael has made it as a sports legend because a video game featuring him is currently being developed in France. A swimming video game? This could be the push into the pool that moves swimming from the margins to the mainstream.
To see some memorable shots of Phelps at the Olympics or to revisit his awesome abs, just
Congrats to Michael Phelps! And a little bit of history to contextualize his winning the title Sportsman of the Year. In 1972, the year Marks Spitz won seven gold medals at the games in Munich breaking the worlds record for most medals won during a single Olympics, tennis great Billie Jean King won the award. It just goes to show you how likable and real Phelps remains after winning all those golds!
Interested in reliving a few Olympic moments with Mr. Phelps? Then check out the gallery below.