10. Chrissy Wellington. Unknown before 2007 in the world of Ironman triathlons, Wellington proved herself in the Ironman Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Britain’s Wellington took the top spot in 2008. Not only did Wellington win, but she beat out all of her competitors by over ten minutes, finishing in 9:06:23. For more information on Chrissy Wellington and the Ford Ironman Championships, visit Ironman.com.
9. Usain Bolt. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Usain Bolt took the title as the World’s Fastest Man. He won the Gold Medal in the 100 meter, 200 meter and 4×100 meter relay. He set the World and Olympic record in all 3 events (along with his teammates in the relay). The Jamaican ran the 100 meter in 9.69 seconds, the 200 meter in 19.30 seconds, and he and his teammates finished the 4×100 in just 37.10 seconds. He had such a lead in the 100 meter race that he slowed as he celebrated before reaching the finish line. Analysis of his race led several scientific predictions that Bolt could have run a sub-9.6 race had he kept his pace. To see more on Bolt’s Olympic runs, visit his profile page on NBCOlympics.com.
8. Sidney Crosby. Captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins NHL team, Crosby missed several games in 2008, but still managed to make a huge impact. He came back just in time for the playoffs, and his team made it to the final round against the Detroit Red Wings. Although they were defeated in 6 games, the Canadian Crosby finished the playoffs with 27 points, tying for first place with Henrik Zetterberg. Crosby passed the mark of 100 goals, 200 assists and 300 total points on 10/18/2008. For more on Sidney Crosby, the Penguins and the NHL, see NHL.com.
7. The Chinese Women’s Gymnastics Team. Sure, there was that whole age scandal, but the IOC verified and assured that the whole team was of age during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Regardless of age, no one can dispute that these girls were amazingly talented and professional, winning the team Gold. Information is available on Beijing’s Official Olympic website regarding China’s team.
6. Dara Torres. Dara is the first US swimmer to compete in five Olympic games. At age 40, Dara won 3 silver medals at the Beijing Olympic games. She medaled in the 50m freestyle, and the 4×100 medley and 4×100 freestyle relays. Dara famously stopped one of her races at the Olympics so a fellow competitor could change out of a ripped suit and compete. Her sportsmanship and competitive edge earn her a spot in the top swimmers of all time. To read more on Dara, see her personal website.
5. LeBron James. This NBA player from Ohio is the top player in the NBA today. His team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, have made the playoffs the last three years, thanks to James. LeBron also helped power the USA Olympic Men’s Basketball team to their gold medal in the 2008 Olympic games. For more on LeBron, see both the NBA website and the NBC’s official Beijing Olympics coverage site.
4. Cole Hamels. This San Diego, California boy made his way up to the Major Leagues, and in 2008 was awarded the MVP award of the 2008 World Series. He led his Phillies to the Championship title, going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in postseason play. Hamels’ bio and stats are available at MLB.com.
3. Anderson Silva. Silva, also known as “The Spider”, has been the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion since 10/14/2006. This Brazilian boxer has an amazing 23-4 record, and in 2008 it has been 3-0. Silva’s impressive technique and mixed martial arts combinations make him a formidable opponent. Silva’s bio and record are available in more detail on UFC.com or Silva’s personal page.
2. Tiger Woods. Golf’s winningest and top paid athlete earns his title and salary. Tiger Woods proves year in and year out he is still the top player in the PGA. In 2008, Tiger’s shining moment was in the US Open, which was forced into a playoff between Woods and Rocco Mediate. Woods beat out Mediate on the first hole of the playoff, winning the US Open title. Woods also finished second at the Masters in 2008. For more info on Tiger Woods, see TigerWoods.com.
1. Michael Phelps. The undisputed top athlete of the year, Phelps won 8 Olympic golds at the 2008 games in swimming, setting the record for the most golds won in any single Olympic games. Phelps has accumulated 14 total Olympic Gold Medals, the most of any athlete. The Baltimore, Maryland native set World Records in 7 events: 400m individual medley, 200m individual medley, 200m butterfly, 200m freestyle, 4x100m medley relay, 4x200m freestyle relay, 4x100m freestyle relay. He also set an Olympic record in his other event, the 100m butterfly. To read more about the amazing Michael Phelps, go to his profile page on NBC.