For the first time ever the Associated Press has named a soccer player as their Athlete of the Year.
U.S. Women’s National Team player Abby Wambach was announced today as the winner of this year’s award voted on by a panel of writers. The 31-year-old received 65 of the 214 votes cast, while teammate Hope Solo (38) was a distant second, and UConn basketball star Maya Moore (35) was third.
Wambach, who is third all-time on the U.S. career goal-scoring list with 125 goals, trailing only Mia Hamm (158) and Kristine Lilly (130), was named AP Female Athlete of the Year for her outstanding performance in last summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup. Wambach scored 4 goals during the tournament which included a goal in each of the USA’s knockout games. One of those goals being the famous dramatic tying goal against Brazil in the quarterfinal.
“It just seemed surreal,” Wambach told AP. “Even in the moment, I was feeling like it was a dream because we were so against the ropes, and everything was pointing to us going down that day. But there was something inside of us that wasn’t going to allow that to happen. We weren’t quite ready to give up.”
This is the first time a man or women soccer player has won the prestigious award.