Amy Van Dyken-Rouen

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Nathan Chen, Simone Biles, U.S. women’s soccer team win Team USA Awards

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Simone Biles was named female athlete of the year and Nathan Chen took the corresponding award for men Tuesday at the Team USA Awards in Los Angeles.

Six-time Olympic swimming champion Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, who has taken up wheelchair CrossFit competition since an ATV accident in 2014 left her paralyzed from the waist down, took the Jesse Owens Olympic Spirit Award. She works to help other people with spinal cord injuries through the Amy Van Dyken Foundation and Amy’s Army, which has launched a Wheels for Kids program to help injured children find wheelchairs that may not be covered by insurance.

The show also included a medal ceremony in which the teammates and family of the late Steven Holcomb received silver medals that were reallocated after doping infractions changed the results of the 2014 Olympic bobsled competition.

MORE: Holcomb’s legacy lives on 

Award winners from the ceremony:

Female Olympic athlete of the year: Simone Biles, gymnastics 

Biles took a one-year break after winning four gold medals and a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics, then came back to do even better, unleashing new skills on the balance beam and in the floor exercise. This year, she won five gold medals at the world championships, breaking the record for career medals.

Female Paralympic athlete of the year: Oksana Masters, Para Nordic skiing and Para cycling 

Already an eight-time Paralympic medalist in Nordic skiing, biathlon and rowing, Masters had a breakout year in cycling, taking silver medals in the world championships. In Nordic skiing, Masters took five world championships (three cross-country, two biathlon) and the overall World Cup championship in sitting cross-country along with a second-place overall finish in biathlon.

Male Olympic athlete of the year: Nathan Chen, figure skating 

Chen had a double back-to-back year, winning his second straight world championship and his second straight Grand Prix final. He also started his 2019-20 season by winning both of his Grand Prix events. He and Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu are far ahead of any other skaters in posted scores this season.

Male Paralympic athlete of the year: Ben Thompson, Para archery 

Thompson took the world championship and the No. 1 ranking in the men’s compound event and led the U.S. to a world record in the team compound event.

Olympic team of the year: U.S. women’s soccer team 

The team claimed the sport’s biggest prize for the second straight time, working its way through a difficult field that included a quarterfinal matchup with host France to win the World Cup once again, adding to its previous wins in 1991, 1999 and 2015.

Paralympic team of the year: U.S. sled hockey team 

Like the women’s soccer team, the sled hockey team went unbeaten in the world championships and claimed a fourth world title.

MORE: Golden goal clinches championship

Olympic coach of the year: KiSik Lee, archery 

This year, Brady Ellison won a world title and set a world record in the Pan Am Games, and Ellison teamed with Casey Kaufhold to win the world title in the mixed team event, which will be on the Olympic program in 2020.

Paralympic coach of the year: Wesley Johnson, paratriathlon 

The founder and head coach of Balanced Art Multisport in Salt Lake City, Johnson is the personal coach of three top-10 paratriathletes, and he served as an assistant coach in the world championships, where three of the athletes he coached won silver medals.

NBC will have highlights of the show at 2 p.m. ET Dec. 22.

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Amy Van Dyken-Rouen finds freedom in new sport after paralyzing accident

TODAY
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Six-time Olympic swimming champion Amy Van Dyken-Rouen has picked up a new sport since being paralyzed from the waist down in a 2014 ATV accident.

Adaptive skiing.

“This, to me, is freedom,” the 1996 and 2000 Olympian said on TODAY. “A lot of people who are injured say that getting in the swimming pool is liberating and free for them. For me, that’s where I feel the most paralyzed.”

So Van Dyken-Rouen has been gliding through snow in Breckenridge, Colo., continuing to challenge limits imposed by others in her recovery.

Van Dyken-Rouen has also walked with an exoskeleton and felt reflexes in her knees and ankles, according to TODAY.

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MORE: FINA proposes many new swim events for Tokyo Olympics

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Amy Van Dyken-Rouen plans to attend U.S. Olympic swim trials

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen
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Amy Van Dyken-Rouen plans to attend the U.S. Olympic swimming trials this summer, 20 years after she won four gold medals at the Atlanta Games and two years after severing her spine in an ATV accident, according to the Arizona Republic.

The Olympic trials are June 26-July 3 in Omaha, with the top two finishers in each individual final clinching spots on the U.S. Olympic team for Rio in August.

Van Dyken-Rouen said she was told by doctors she’d probably never walk again after being paralyzed from the waist down in her June 6, 2014, accident but continues to make progress.

She has taken steps with the aid of braces and a walker in videos on her Instagram — 50 steps takes her almost 30 minutes, according to her recent Q&A with Jeff Pearlman.

In 2012, Van Dyken-Rouen covered the U.S. Olympic trials in Omaha for Fox Sports. She returned to the broadcast booth in January to call swimming on the Pac-12 Network.

In 1996, Van Dyken-Rouen swept the 50m and 100m freestyles at the Olympic trials in Indianapolis.

She then won the 50m free and 100m butterfly at the Atlanta Olympics, plus picked up 4x100m free and 4x100m medley relay golds to be the most decorated female athlete at those Games and first U.S. woman to earn four golds at a single Olympics.

VIDEO: Amy Van Dyken-Rouen’s ‘Dateline’ feature