US Paralympian Jessica Long is the 2012 ESPY recipient for Best Female Athlete with a Disability award.
The ESPY’s are the annual awards gala of sports meganetwork ESPN, with a portion of the awards being decided by a fan vote.
The fans turned out in force for Long, who got a huge boost from her 5 World Record performance at the US Paralympic Trials in Bismarck, North Dakota in mid-June. In her two Paralympic appearances, Long already has 7 Paralympic gold medals. But in the last two years, she along with teammates like Mallory Weggemann (who was nominated for this award last year) and Victoria Arlen have elevated the sport to a whole new level.
Long’s journey to glory began in Siberia. She was adopted by an American family just after her first birthday, though her legs were partially amputated when she was still an infant.
She has been a pioneer in Paralympic athletes, including winning the AAU’s Sullivan Award as the country’s top amateur athlete in 2007. She was the first-ever Paralympian to win the award.
Cal senior-to-be Caitlin Leverenz was nominated in the Best College Athlete category for after winning two NCAA titles, but lost out to Baylor basketball sensation Brittney Griner. Griner also won the overall Female Athlete of the Year award.