Sport Olympians Suni Lee, Caeleb Dressel Win SI's Athlete of the Year
Tom Brady to Simone Biles: We're thankful for these 2021 sports moments
After a sports shutdown in the early months of 2020 due to COVID-19, 2021 sports moments we’re thankful for perhaps shouldn't be contained to 10.In the once-in-a-lifetime period we’re all still experiencing, pro athletes merely playing games is something to be thankful for in and of itself. But the compelling drama and incredible stories produced in the athletic arena have given us even more reason to give thanks, with incredible firsts and historic accomplishments seemingly achieved every other week in 2021. There were quite a few inspiring stories that occurred off the field and courts, too.
A woman gymnast who stepped into an unexpected spotlight and a swimmer who made Olympics history were honored during the SI Awards.
and have come a long way since standing on the podium multiple times during the Tokyo Olympics. Now, they add Sports Illustrated's Athlete of the Year award to their collection.
Both gold medalists were honored for rising to the top of their respective sports—Lee in gymnastics and Dressel in swimming—on Tuesday night during The Sports Illustrated Awards.
Without Caeleb Dressel, U.S. Men Fail to Medal in 4 x 200-Meter Freestyle Relay
A decision to the leave the star swimmer off the 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay team resulted in a shocking podium miss for the U.S., as Great Britain captured the gold.TOKYO — Relay decisions for swim coaches are like pitching changes for baseball managers. It doesn’t matter how much thought goes into it beforehand, the results will dictate the reaction.
"The one thing that I would say would be you don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great," Lee, 18, said. "And I think that's something that's so important because people tend to get caught up in trying to live up to a standard."
The first-generation Hmong American brought home silver in the team final, and went on to snagand a bronze on the uneven bars. Lee was honored earlier this year on list of the most influential people in the world earlier this year, .
But, she almost did not make it to the Tokyo Olympics, sharing on Tuesday that she almost quit gymnastics because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It was just really hard for me to keep stay motivated," Lee said. "But I think the one thing that kept me going was my parents and my coaches for pushing me to be my best every single day."
Fencing’s Rich History With the Grisly—But Dignified!—Art of Dueling
Not that long ago, the world's most decorated swordsmen settled scores in arranged combat. One duel-hungry media member even got in on the, uh, fun. It’s already been a history-making week in Tokyo for the U.S. fencing team, as Lee Kiefer became the first American to win gold in the women’s individual foil. While the men struggled in the individual events, they are heavy favorites in the team foil. The women could conceivably medal in that event as well. And let’s not rule out the épée and sabre teams. Even if they don’t come home medalists, they’ve done a wonderful job just getting to this point.
Dressel, 25, made history while in Tokyo as he swam six different events )12 total swims), set record-breaking times and brought home five gold medals. He's only the third American male swimmer to win three individual golds during a single Summer Games.
When accepting his Athlete of the Year award, he gave insight on an argument he had with his coach at the height of the pandemic in June 2020. Dressel had been training for months on end "with no guarantee of having a pool at the end of the summer." He grew frustrated and formulated an argument that he would later yell at his coach.
"He looks at me and he says, 'You know, that all sounds great. You just tell me what you want for me.' And my jaw hit the ground because he was supposed to be yelling back at me. I realized I needed a coach," Dressel said. "And that moment, I've never been more humbled in my life because to be honest, I don't know what I'm doing. I'm really good at swimming fast, but I don't know how to swim fast. I need someone to teach me that."
The only thing Dressel said he will take credit for is that he's "a really good listener."
"And [coach] Troy's the guy that tells me what to do. My family in the front row, my wife, my agent. I have people who tell me what to do, and that's what I'm good at."
Brandun Lee looking at 2022 as the year for world title .
Brandun Lee heads to the boxing ring for the last time in 2021 against Juan Heraldez on Showtime on Dec. 11. It could be the penultimate for a title. Brandun Lee might be the biggest puncher in boxing's super lightweight division. He fights for the last time in 2021 on Dec. 11 against Juan H eraldez. This could be the start of a warpath to a world title. Lee (23-0, 21 KOs) is known for his knockout power. He boasts a 91 percent knockout rating and has never fought past the fourth round. His habit of taking opponents out early makes him an entertaining fighter to watch, but he takes a big step up in competition against Heraldez.