BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Four former Southeastern Conference track and field athletes have been selected as nominees for the 2012 Jesse Owens Athlete of the Year award, an honor from USA Track and Field recognizing the sport’s top athletes of the year.
The honors are selected by a vote of the media and an online fan balloting will account for 10 percent of the total vote. Fans may cast their votes here: http://usatf.org/Promotions/Jesse-Owens-Award-Vote.aspx. Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 12.
Three former SEC athletes are on the list of six male nominees, including Will Claye (Florida), Aries Merritt (Tennessee) and Christian Taylor (Florida). Former Ole Miss standout Brittney Reese is among the six women’s nominees.
Claye won the Olympic bronze in the long jump (8.12m/26-7.75) and the silver in the triple jump (17.62m/57-9.75), becoming the first man since 1936 to medal in both jumps at the Olympic Games and the first American to do so since Meyer Prinstein in 1904. He also was the IAAF World Indoor Champion in the triple jump (17.70m/58-1).
Merritt set the 110-meter hurdles world record of 12.80 at the Brussels Diamond League Meet to improve the previous record by .07 seconds. He won the Olympic gold (12.92), recording the fastest time ever by an American at the Olympic Games. He also was the World Indoor 60-meter hurdles gold medalist.
Taylor captured the Olympic gold medal in the triple jump (17.81m/58-4.25) after also winning the U.S. Olympic Trials (17.63m/57-10.25). He won the outdoor Diamond League series title and was the runner-up at the USA Indoor Championships and the IAAF World Indoor Championships.
Reese was the Olympic gold medalist in the long jump (17.12m/23-4.50). She was the IAAF World Indoor Champion in the long jump with an American record-setting jump of 7.23m/23-8.75. Reese also won the U.S. Olympic Trials in the long jump (7.15m/23-5.5).
This year’s awards will be presented Dec. 1 at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, held in conjunction with USA Track & Field’s 2012 Annual Meeting in Daytona Beach, Fla.
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2012 Jesse Owens Athlete of the Year Nominees
Will Claye (Florida)
Aries Merritt (Tennessee)
Christian Taylor (Florida)
Brittney Reese (Ole Miss)