The United States Olympic Committee announced Tuesday its Athletes of the Month for July.
And the winners are …
Women – USA Softball shortstop Natasha Watley;
Men — USA Swimming’s Ryan Lochte;
Team — USA Swimming’s men’s 4-by-100 freestyle relay swimmers.
Runner-up in the team category was the USA Basketball men’s under-19 team that won its age-group World Championships. That team included Darius Miller (Mason County H.S., Univ. Kentucky) and Shelvin Mack (Bryan Station H.S., Butler Univ.).
For the first time, 10 percent of the vote was determined by followers of the USOC’s Twitter site (@USOlympic). A panel of U.S. Olympic family members accounted for the other 90 percent of the vote.
Watley helped Team USA to gold-medal finishes in the Canada Cup and KFC World Cup of Softball (at Oklahoma City). Starting a team-high 18 games, Watley went 25-for-47 (.702) at the plate, knocking in 20 runs and going 8-for-8 in the stolen-base department. She hit two doubles and two homers, including a grand slam against Canada in the World Cup.
At the FINA World Championships in Rome, Lochte set a world record in winning the 200-meter individual medley and swam on the world-record 800-meter freestyle relay team, as well as the championship-record 400-meter freestyle relay. Lochte also won a bronze medal in the 200-meter backstroke.
The USOC team honor, the men’s 400 free relay, went to Michael Phelps, Lochte, Matt Grevers and Nathan Adrian. Their World Championships time of 3:09.21 edged the Russians by 31 hundredths of a second and beat the favored French team by more than half a second.
The top three in the Athlete of the Month categories:
WOMEN — 1. Natasha Watley; 2. Kelly Rulon, swimming; 3. (tie) Tina Charles, basketball; Rebecca Soni, swimming; Serena Williams, tennis.
MEN — 1. Ryan Lochte; 2. Troy Dumais, diving; 3. Andy Roddick, tennis.
TEAM — 1. U.S. men’s 400-meter freestyle relay swim team; 2. U.S. men’s U-19 basketball team; 3. U.S. women’s senior water polo team.