Press Release from USATF
Released on November 20. Published on November 22.
INDIANAPOLIS — Double USATF Indoors and Outdoors champion Shelby Houlihan has been named the 2018 USATF Jackie Joyner-Kersee Award winner, while Diamond League and USATF Outdoors champion sprinter Noah Lyles has won the 2018 USATF Jesse Owens Award, USATF announced Tuesday.
The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Award honors the top female USATF athlete of the year while the Owens Award honors the top male athlete. Winners are determined by a vote of the U.S. track and field media and an online fan vote. Houlihan and Lyles will be honored at the 2018 USATF Night of Legends Gala on Saturday, December 1 in Columbus, Ohio as part of the USATF Annual Meeting. Tickets are available online.
Houlihan (Sioux City, Iowa) set an American record at 5000m and won four USATF titles (two Indoors and two outdoors), while Lyles (Alexandria, Virginia) claimed the Diamond League 200m title going undefeated over five Diamond League 200m contests.
“In a thrilling season, Shelby and Noah are being honored as the best of the best,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said. “On behalf of USATF, we congratulate them on historic seasons and thank them for inspiring their teammates, the country and the next generation of athletes.”
2018 Jackie Joyner-Kersee Athlete of the Year: Shelby Houlihan
An American record and four USATF Championships titles highlighted 2018 for Houlihan.
After impressive Diamond League victories in Eugene and Lausanne, Houlihan captured a new 5,000m American Record in Heusden, Belgium. She clocked a time of 14:34.45, beating her personal record by over 20 seconds and the previous American record by more than four seconds.
A month earlier, Houlihan became the second female since 2003 to win both the 1,500m and 5,000m at a USATF Outdoor Championships. She grabbed her second and third national titles at the 2018 USATF Outdoor Championships in the Michelob ULTRA women’s 1,500m and Michelob ULTRA women’s 5,000m. She earned the 1,500m title with a time of 4:05.48 and the very next day returned for the 5,000m. Houlihanmoved up to the lead with two laps remaining and sprinted the final 100m to take the national title with a time of 15:31.03.
At the USATF Indoor Championships, Houlihan doubled up her titles for the second consecutive year. She sprinted to victory in an exciting, tactically run Garden of Life women’s 3,000m, winning in 9:00.08 then returned to the track the next day to win the 1,500m. With her teammate Colleen Quigley charging down the stretch, Houlihan surpassed Quigley to win in 4:13.07.
Houlihan’s indoor national titles brought her to Birmingham, England for the IAAF World Indoor Championships where she finished fourth in the 1,500m with a personal best of 4:06.21 and crossed the line fifth in 3,000m.
“I’m so humbled and honored to have not only have been nominated for the Jackie Joyner-Kersee award, but to have also had enough people think that I am deserving of it,” Houlihan said. “Every one of these women, and many more, continue to inspire me and push me day after day to run my best and train my hardest. Thank you to everyone that took the time to vote and thank you to those that have followed my career and continually cheered me on. Your support means more to me than you know.”
2018 Jesse Owens Athlete of the Year: Noah Lyles
Lyles’ 2018 season was incredible. He won a USATF title and went undefeated in the 200m en route to winning the Diamond League title.
At the USATF Outdoor Championships, Lyles ran a then world-leading 9.88 to win the Nike men’s 100m final, erasing his 100-minute-old mark of 9.89 set in the semifinals. Lyles became the youngest 100m champion in 34 years since Sam Graddy won at 20 years, 3 months, 30 days compared to Noah’s 20 years, 11 months and 4 days.
Lyles went on to win the Diamond League 200m final in 19.67 at Zürich, making him only the second man in history (along with Usain Bolt) to record four sub-19.70 clockings in one year. He clocked his season-best 200m of 19.65 at Monaco, equaling the sixth fastest time by an American ever.
He wrapped up the season leading Team Americas to the IAAF Continental Cup title as he won the 100m in 10.01 and ran on the winning 4x100m relay team.
“I am truly honored and grateful to receive this year’s Jesse Owens Award. Jesse Owens was a pioneer who set a standard of excellence that I hope to achieve some day,” said Lyles. “To be named the USA’s top overall track athlete and win an award named for one of the greatest legends in our sport’s history is an incredible honor. Thank you to my family, friends and everyone that supports me.”
For more about the Jesse Owens and Jackie Joyner-Kersee Awards, including past winners, click here.