COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (January 28, 2008) -- USA Triathlon is pleased to announce the recipients of its annual elite athlete awards for 2007 as selected by the USAT Athlete Advisory Council.
Highlighting the list are Olympic/ITU Female Triathlete of the Year Laura Bennett, repeat selection from 2006.
Female Olympic/ITU Triathlete of the Year
Laura Bennett (N. Palm Beach, Fla. / Boulder, Colo.)
For Bennett, 2007 was equally impressive, as she captured a World Cup win - and $200,000 prize purse - at the inaugural Hy-Vee Triathlon in Des Moines, Iowa. She earned her fourth podium in five years with a third place finish at the ITU World Championship in Hamburg, Germany, and closed the campaign in style by securing her slot on the U.S. Olympic Team by placing third at the ITU BG Beijing World Cup. She finished the year ranked 7th in the ITU World Cup rankings.
"Winning Hy-Vee, being on the podium at worlds, and taking the first Olympic spot were the goals I set out for myself at the beginning of the season," said Bennett. "Honestly to achieve what you planned to do is amazing, and winning 2007 Female Olympic / ITU Triathlete of Year is just icing on the cake."
"Laura is so consistent and has been getting better and better every year," said Schnitzspahn. "She showed that she is one of the very best in the world with her performances in 2007 and a legitimate gold medal threat at the Beijing Olympics this summer."
Female Multisport Non-ITU Athlete of the Year
Jamie Whitmore (Mount Aukum, Calif.)
Whitmore continues to reign among Americans on the off-road circuit. She won both the XTERRA USA Championship (breaking the three-hour mark) and the XTERRA USA Point Series, while capturing first place at three XTERRA regional championships and finishing second in another. She also claimed the XTERRA Japan Championship and finished third in the XTERRA World Championship.
"It is an absolute honor to win this award, especially when you consider all of the talented athletes I was up against," said Whitmore. "As a triathlete I am just blessed to be recognized for doing something I love!"
Female Rookie of the Year
Tyler Stewart (Novato, Calif.)
Stewart's first year as an elite was highlighted by a win at the Cancun 70.3 (in 4:26:37) and a second overall (first American) at Ironman Lake Placid. She also grabbed third overall (first American) at Ironman Florida (which included the fastest ever bike split) and a sixth-place finish at Wildflower Long Course.
"This award only makes me smile and makes me feel lucky that I have success in something that I love to do," said Stewart.
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