The U.S. women’s soccer team capped off an incredible year by taking home the top honors for both FIFA player and coach of the year at the Ballon d’Or gala in Zurich Monday night.
Striker Abby Wambach, who finished in the top-five for the award five times, became the first American in a decade to earn the sport’s top individual award after she scored five goals in the Olympics and led the U.S. to its third consecutive gold.
“Thank you for challenging me every day,” Wambach said of her competitors. “Alex [Morgan] especially.”
Wambach beat out Morgan, her teammate, whose header capped a dramatic semi-final extra time win over Canada during the Olympics, as well as Marta, the Brazilian star who already has five Player of the Year trophies of her own.
Former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, who heads the Swedish national team, took home Coach of the Year.
Brad Snyder, who took home three swimming gold medals from the Rio Paralympic Games, threw the ceremonial first pitch at the Baltimore Orioles game on Sunday.
Snyder, who lost his vision while serving in the U.S. Navy in Afghanistan by stepping on an improvised explosive device, is a native of Baltimore.
He pitched alongside fellow Paralympic swimmer McKenzie Coan, who also claimed three gold medals in Rio.
The Orioles honored two more Paralympians, track and field sisters Hannah and Tatyana McFadden, before Saturday’s game.
Tatyana won six medals in Rio, which tied her with swimmer Jessica Long for the most for a U.S. athlete.
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The gymnasium at Winslow Township (N.J.) High School was renamed Jordan Burroughs Gymnasium on Saturday in honor of the 2012 Olympic wrestling champion.
“I just want people to recognize it’s possible,” Burroughs said to the Courier-Post. “It takes focus, dedication and really, discipline, to get to this high level of success. But like, I did it. From here. These same teachers, these same facilities, this same community. It’s possible. I want people to recognize that.”
Burroughs was a state champion in 2006 at Winslow Township High School. Six years later, he claimed an Olympic gold medal in the men’s freestyle wrestling 74kg division.
In Rio, he lost his quarterfinal match to Russia’s Aniuar Geduev, who went on to earn the silver medal. After the match, an emotional Burroughs referred to the loss as the “hardest day of my life.”
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