Montgomery County has produced numerous world-class athletes throughout the years and two of them were honored recently. The U.S. Olympic Committee named Montgomery County natives Katie Ledecky and Kyle Snyder respectively as Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year.
The Athlete of the Year awards have been presented since 1974. Every year, the USOC selects an athlete out of several nominees who have distinguished themselves in an Olympic sport.
Ledecky has won five Olympic gold medals and 14 world championship medals, the most won in history for a female swimmer. She currently holds the world record in the women’s 400, 800 and 1500-meter freestyle. The Sportswoman of the Year honor is nothing new for Ledecky, as she held the title in 2012, 2013, and 2016.
Ledecky grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, where she attended Little Flower School and Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, graduating in 2015. She swam for the Cabin John Palisades Swim Team before training at the Nation’s Capital Swim Club. Ledecky went on to win gold in the 2012 London Olympics Games at just 15 years old. This was the beginning of her successful swimming career, which included several World Championship and Pan Pacific Championship wins, as well as a strong showing at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. This year alone, Ledecky won six medals, including five golds, at the FINA World Championship.
Snyder is the youngest Olympic gold medalist and the youngest World Champion in American wrestling history. He has represented the United States in men’s freestyle wrestling since 2013. Snyder is also the youngest wrestler ever to win the World Championship, NCAA Championship, and Olympic Games in the same year: a feat he accomplished in 2016.
Although he grew up east of Montgomery County in Woodbine, Maryland, Snyder attended Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, where he graduated in 2014. In his first three years of high school, Snyder amassed an impressive 179–0 record before winning the FILA Junior World Championship in 2013. This summer, he defeated two-time world champion Russian wrestler Abdulrashid Sadulaev, earning Team USA its first wrestling World Championship win in over 20 years.
The USOC honored Ledecky and Snyder on November 29 during the Team USA Awards show in Los Angeles. A recording of the show will be broadcast on December 23 on NBC.
The athletic accomplishments of both Ledecky and Snyder prove that their Athlete of the Year awards are well deserved. As athletes with Montgomery County roots, they continue to inspire young athletes around the county.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Anna Chen of Richard Montgomery High School