Olympic Gold Medalist and Gymnastics Phenom Simone Biles Tops espnW’s 2016 IMPACT25 List as the Woman of the Year

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Olympic Gold Medalist and Gymnastics Phenom Simone Biles Tops espnW’s 2016 IMPACT25 List as the Woman of the Year

Personal essays by Prince Harry, Michael Phelps, Billie Jean King and more laud the honorees

Gymnast Simone Biles has been named espnW’s Woman of the Year, topping the 2016 IMPACT25 list, a who’s who of 25 athletes and influencers who have made the biggest difference in women in sports this year. Biles’ distinction was announced this morning on SportsCenter: Coast to Coast by host Cari Champion in an exclusive interview with the gymnast, who will also appear on the cover of ESPN The Magazine’s upcoming year-end issue. Biles is coming off an incredible year in which she won her fourth consecutive gymnastics all-around national title, five Olympic medals, including golds in the Team and the All-Around competitions, and published a memoir.

As a tribute to the IMPACT25, espnW commissioned essays from family members, fellow athletes, luminaries and contemporaries who know – or have been inspired by — the honorees. All essays can be found at espnW.com/IMPACT25.  In addition to Biles, members of the 2016 IMPACT25 list include:

  • Hillary Clinton (essay by Billie Jean King) – The first female presidential nominee of a major party started the Global Sports Mentoring Program while she was Secretary of State. She also swam and played baseball as a young woman.
  • Elizabeth Marks (essay by Prince Harry) — After winning her fourth swimming gold medal at this year’s Invictus Games, U.S. Army Sergeant Marks poignantly returned it to Prince Harry, asking him to deliver it to England’s Papworth Hospital as thanks for saving her life.
  • Leslie Jones (essay by Jemele Hill) – By taking over the Olympics with her spot-on Twitter feed, the Saturday Night Live comedian brought attention to women’s sports. She’s also been a strong voice against online bullying through sharing her personal experience.
  • Katie Ledecky (essay by Michael Phelps) – The long-distance swimmer took home four golds and one silver in Rio, and broke two world records along the way. She also just smashed her own NCAA record.
  • Tatyana McFadden (essay by Jackie Joyner-Kersee) — McFadden won her fifth NYC Marathon title in November, earning her a fourth straight sweep of all four major marathons (Boston, London, Chicago and New York). She also took home four golds and two silver medals in Rio, making her a 17-time Paralympic Games medalist.
  • Kylie Bunbury (essay by Mark-Paul Gosselaar) – Bunbury is recognized for her groundbreaking portrayal of Ginny Baker, a rookie pitcher and the first female to play in Major League Baseball, on FOX’s new show Pitch.

“Simone Biles had a year like no other and made an indelible mark on the sports and cultural landscapes that went far beyond gymnastics,” said Alison Overholt, editor-in-chief, espnW and ESPN The Magazine. “We’re proud to celebrate her achievements and those of all the incredible women who made the list. The heartfelt essays contributed to honor this year’s IMPACT25 demonstrate how much these women altered the tenor of the conversation around women in sports and ignited our imaginations in 2016.”

In addition to the IMPACT25, espnW today announced the winners of three special awards. The Lifetime Achievement Award, given to a person who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to the advancement of women in sports, is awarded to Hall of Fame golfer Se Ri Pak. The Pegasus Award for Inspiration, which is given to honor the spirit of Special Olympics gold medalist Olivia Quigley, is awarded to Paulette Leaphart, a double-mastectomy breast cancer survivor who bravely walked topless across the country to bring awareness to women battling breast cancer. And this year, espnW awarded its inaugural Pat Summitt Coaching Award—named after the late, legendary Tennessee Lady Vols head coach to honor deserving coaches—to Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins.

All IMPACT25 content, including the personal essays, is available at: espnW.com/IMPACT25.

The 2016 IMPACT25:

Monica Abbott (essay by Jennie Finch) Helen Maroulis (essay by Ryan Hockensmith)
Simone Biles (essay by Adria Biles) Tatyana McFadden (essay by Jackie Joyner-Kersee)
Kylie Bunbury (essay by Mark-Paul Gosselaar) Minnesota Lynx (essay by DeRay Mckesson)
Hillary Clinton (essay by Billie Jean King) Ibtihaj Muhammad (essay by Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir)
Final Five (essay by Shannon Miller) Mira Nair (essay by Tendo Nagenda)
Jessie Graff (essay by Jessica Miller) Nneka Ogwumike (essay by Candace Parker)
Ashleigh Johnson (essay by Maggie Steffens) Claressa Shields (essay by Tracy Clayton)
Leslie Jones (essay by Jemele Hill) Kathryn Smith (essay by Rex Ryan)
Angelique Kerber (essay by Pam Shriver) Brenda Tracy (essay by Darius Adams)
Katie Ledecky (essay by Michael Phelps) University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball Team
(essay by Alysa Auriemma)
Jessica Luther (essay by Kavitha Davidson) Dr. Robin West (essay by Ryan Clark)
Simone Manuel (essay by Mekeisha Madden Toby) Women’s Rowing 8s (essay by Mary Whipple)
Elizabeth Marks (essay by Prince Harry)  

About espnW

espnW is a global multiplatform brand dedicated to engaging and inspiring women through sports. espnW.com, the brand’s content home, offers total access to female athletes and the sports they play, takes fans inside the biggest events, and captures the biggest trends in sports life/style.  espnW also provides a unique point of view on the sports stories that matter most to women and highlights the crossroads of sports and culture. Founded in July 2010, espnW’s content and voices live across digital, television, radio, films, events, educational platforms and social media. The annual espnW: Women + Sports Summit, now in its seventh year, brings together top athletes and industry leaders for meaningful conversations around women and sports, and is the leading event of its kind in the sports industry.

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Tara Chozet

I handle PR for ESPN Radio, espnW, technology, remote operations and soccer. I received my undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and my Master’s degree from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.
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