This past decade hasn’t given us a lot to cheer about. So in looking to sports – we can cheer like crazy as our favorite athlete, i.e., hero, leads our team to victory. The following top five elite athletes are certainly something to cheer about during these last ten years.
Peyton Manning (Football, Denver Broncos)
Although his father Archie and younger brother, Eli, contribute to this football dynasty, Peyton Manning is in a league of his own. At age 38, Peyton still is shattering football passing records – this past 2013 season he had a record 55 touchdown passes and 5477 passing yards. Manning is a five-time league MVP, including a win in 2013. He won a Super Bowl ring (as an Indianapolis Colt defeating the Chicago Bears 29-17 in 2006). In 2013 he was also “Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.” Enough said!
Kobe Bryant (Basketball, Los Angeles Lakers)
The amazing thing about shooting guard Kobe Bryant is that he entered the NBA out of High School and has played for the Los Angeles Lakers his entire career. Then there are the awards – Bryant has won five NBA championships, been a 16-time NBA All-Star, a four-time Most Valuable Award Winner and was the youngest player to reach 30,000 career points. He also has a couple of Olympic Gold medals. It’s unfortunate that this high performing athlete has been plagued with injuries this past year.
Serena Williams (Tennis)
Serena Williams may very well be the best female tennis player ever to play. She was ranked #1 on the circuit in 2002, and twelve years later she is ranked #1 again, at age 32. She has won the Australian, French and US Opens, as well as Wimbledon multiple times. She’s also won four Olympic Gold Medals – one in singles and three in doubles with her sister Venus Williams (who is a great player herself).
Teemu Selanne (Hockey, Anaheim Ducks)
At age 43, Teemu Selanne “The Finnish Flash” is one of the oldest players in NHL. In his 25th year in the profession, he currently plays as a winger for the Anaheim Ducks. In his rookie year, 1992-93, Selanne scored 76 goals! This earned him the coveted Calder Memorial Trophy for the top first-year player. Selanne finds himself playing in the post-season again, as he and the Ducks look for a second Stanley Cup (they won their first Cup in 2007).
U.S. Women’s Soccer
In rounding up “best athlete” lists, I’m breaking the mold and picking a team – the U.S. Women’s Soccer team. Building from the 1999 U.S. team of all-stars, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Michelle Akers, Brandi Chastain, etc., the 2012 World Cup and Olympic team of Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Hope Solo were just as exciting and winning, and continue to uplift the sport in a nation not known for soccer popularity.