INDIANAPOLIS - Allyson Felix and Ashton Eaton were named the winners of the 2012 Jesse Owens Award on Monday by USA Track & Field. The Owens Award is presented annually to the most outstanding U.S. male and female track performers. This is Felix's fourth time to win the award and Eaton's first.
"Ashton's world records and Allyson's three Olympic gold medals punctuated an outstanding season by all of our athletes," said USATF CEO Max Siegel. "We are very proud to name them as the recipients of the Jesse Owens Award and look forward to celebrating their outstanding seasons at our Hall of Fame ceremony in Daytona Beach."
Eaton and Felix will be presented with their awards on Saturday, December 1, at the Jesse Owens Hall of Fame Banquet. The event is held in conjunction with USA Track & Field's 2012 Annual Meeting in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Felix finds her gold
Remarkably, this is the fourth time that the 26-year-old Felix (Santa Clarita, Calif.) has been named the Jesse Owens Athlete of the Year. Felix finds herself at the top of a list of track and field legends as the winningest recipient of the award.
Felix already had an impeccable resume entering the 2012 season, but she was able to add the one thing missing from her trophy case - an individual Olympic gold medal. En route to London, Felix clocked a sensational 21.69 200m at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials to break Florence Griffith-Joyner's 24-year-old Olympic Trials record and become the fourth fastest woman in history.
In London, Felix became the first woman since Flo-Jo in 1988 to win three gold medals in a single Olympic Games. Felix won individual Olympic gold in the 200m (21.88) and won gold on the 4x400m relay (3:16.87) and in the world-record setting 4x100m relay (40.82).
The world's greatest athlete
Eaton's 2012 season forever left his name in the record books with a nearly perfect season. Eaton (Eugene, Ore.) completed three multi-event competitions in 2012; he set a world record in the first two and won Olympic gold in the third.
Eaton started the year with his first national title in an individual event as he won the long jump at the USA Indoor Championships. From there he went on to better his own world record in the heptathlon as he won the World Indoor Championships with 6,645 points.
At the Olympic Trials, Eaton's rain-soaked world record became the iconic performance of the meet. After setting decathlon world records in the 100m and long jump, Eaton electrified the Eugene crowd as he ran a personal best in the 1500m to secure his world record of 9,039 points.
Two world records would have been enough to make Eaton's 2012 season legendary, but he didn't relent as he went on to win Olympic gold in London with a performance of 8,869 points.
About the Jesse Owens Award
Established in 1981, the Jesse Owens Award is USA Track & Field's highest accolade, presented annually to the outstanding U.S. male and female track and field performers. The award is named after National Track & Field Hall of Famer and worldwide icon Jesse Owens, who won gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany, while conducting himself with grace and dignity. With his remarkable performances, Owens forever destroyed Adolf Hitler's notions of Aryan supremacy.
The 2012 Jesse Owens Award winners were selected in balloting of members of the U.S. track and field media, and a fan vote was held on the USATF website that comprised 10% of the total vote. More than 5,500 fan votes were received. Other men's finalists included Will Claye, Leo Manzano, Aries Merritt, Galen Rupp, Christian Taylor. Finalists for the women's award were Carmelita Jeter, Chaunte Lowe, Brittney Reese, Sanya Richards-Ross and Jenn Suhr.
The permanent commemorative Jesse Owens Award is maintained at the USATF national headquarters and a replica is provided to each of the winners. Previous winners may be viewed at: USATF.org.