U.S.A. water polo goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson was honored with the Women’s Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year award this week for the team sports category.
The WSF honors two women each year – one from an individual sport and one from a team sport. Johnson becomes the first water polo player ever to win the award. But breaking new ground is nothing new to her: Johnson was the first black woman to compete for the United States in Olympic water polo competition and led Team USA to a gold medal with 51 saves throughout the tournament and a save percentage of 64.5. Team USA’s title was a successful defense of its 2012 gold medal run, the first time a team has won back-to-back golds in women’s Olympic water polo history.
The U.S. also won its third-straight title in FINA’s World Water Polo League prior to the Olympics.
Olympic gold medal boxer Claressa Shields won the individual sport category. You can read more about both women on the Team USA website here.
The Women’s Sports Federation has often found its award recipients in the aquatics realm. Missy Franklin won the individual award in 2013, joining a list of honorees that includes Natalie Coughlin (2003), Jenny Thompson (2000) and Amy van Dyken (1996).