The Olympic Sailing Committee of US SAILING, has recognized five athletes as the sport's U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) Athletes of the Year.
Recognized in the Team category are Yngling sailors Betsy Alison, Lee Icyda and Suzy Leech. Laser sailor Andrew Campbell and Laser Radial sailor Paige Railey are Male and Female Athlete of the Year, respectively. Bestowed annually, the USOC Athlete of the Year awards are based on outstanding performances in competition.
As US SAILING's USOC Athletes of the Year, these sailors will be considered for the overall USOC Team of the Year, Male Athlete of the Year and Female Athlete of the Year Awards. The USOC award winners will be selected from the Athletes of the Year recognized by each Olympic sport's national governing body.
"The notable performances of these sailors in 2002 is a perfect illustration of how success begets success,"
said Olympic Sailing Committee Chairman Fred Hagedorn. "Betsy Alison, Lee Icyda and Suzy Leech returned from Europe with not only a medal, but a guaranteed place on the starting line for an American boat in the Yngling event at the 2004 Olympic Regatta. Campbell and Railey, both medallists at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships, helped place the U.S.A. third overall for the Volvo Trophy (recognizing the nation with the best cumulative team results across all six events), the best showing in several years for U.S. sailors."
Team of the Year
- The Yngling team of Betsy Alison, Lee Icyda and Suzy Leech were recognized for winning the women's bronze medal at the 2002 Yngling World Championship in Switzerland. Enhancing the significance of the medal win was that their performance
secured the USA its berth to the 2004 Olympic Regatta in Athens where the Yngling will make its debut as the women's keelboat event. In August, Alison, Icyda and Leech previewed the Olympic venues in Athens at the first Olympic Test Event, placing fourth out of 23 boats. Closing out 2002 with a bang, they made headlines last month with their win of the first-ever U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship. With the addition of Dini Hall to help crew aboard the four-person J/22s used at the event, which was sailed in New Orleans, the team won 11 of 12 matches on their way to the finals and captured the championship title with a 3-1 record. Past winners of US SAILING's Team of the Year honors include brothers Jonathan and Charlie McKee (2001); Mark Reynolds and Magnus Liljedahl (2000); Eric Doyle and Tom Olsen (1999); and Morgan Larson and Kevin Hall
Male Athlete of the Year
- For Andrew Campbell 2002 was a year for the record books. He started the new year by finishing second in the 63-boat Laser fleet at the 2002 Rolex Miami OCR, a result which earned him the number one ranking in that class on the 2002 US Sailing Team. Early in the summer he won his third consecutive U.S. Youth Championship which put the 18-year old Campbell into the history books as the only sailor to earn the coveted U.S. Singlehanded Sailing Championship crown three times. That win qualified him to compete in the 2002 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships where he sat out the final race of the series after mathematically securing the singlehanded championship title. Sailing in the 24-boat Laser fleet, Campbell was at or near the top of the leader board from the first day of the event, winning the gold medal and his first world championship title by 14 points over his closest competitor. Campbell then moved on to new challenges. As a freshman at Georgetown University he has made a seamless transition to college sailing. The highlight of the fall season was his win in November of the ICSA/Vanguard Singlehanded Championship. Past winners of US SAILING's ale Athlete of the Year honours include Tom Brown (2001); Russ Silvestri (2000); Mark Mendelblatt (1999); and John Myrdal (1998).
Female Athlete of the Year
- For Paige Railey, 2002 was a case of history repeating itself - and then some. In July, sailing in a fleet of 20 Bytes, she won the bronze medal at the 2002 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships. Railey then went on to successfully defend her U.S. Junior Women's Singlehanded Championship title in August. Sailing in Laser Radials, 55 competitors contested eight races - seven of which were won by Railey. She beat her closest competitor by 27 points to win the title and earned the bonus of a repeat trip as the U.S. representative to the youth world championship scheduled for July 18-27, 2003, in Portugal. Ranked nationally as the top female in the Laser Radial, the high school sophomore is being recognized as US SAILING'S Female Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row. Past winners of US SAILING's Female Athlete of the Year honors include Lanee Butler ('91, '93, '94, '99, 2000); and Meg Gaillard (1998)