From The Denver Post:
Fort Collins swimmer Erin Popovich was named Paralympian of the Year for 2008 by the U.S. Olympic Committee Jan. 22. At her third Paralympic Games in Beijing, Popovich collected four gold medals and two silver, bringing her career total to 14 gold and five silver.
“It’s a huge honor,” Popovich said. “Beijing was amazing. To be able to compete in the ‘Water Cube’ was an experience in itself. To be picked out of all the great accomplishments the U.S. delegation had in the Paralympics is very exciting for me.”
Popovich, a Colorado State graduate, also was the 2004 USOC Paralympian of the Year. In 2005, she was named the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Sportswoman of the Year, and she won an ESPY award for best female athlete with a disability. She returned to training in the pool this week and has applied to several medical schools around the country, hoping to remain in Colorado.
“I love Colorado,” Popovich said. “If I were allowed to stay here, it would be wonderful.”
In other USOC awards announced Jan. 22, swimmer Michael Phelps was named sportsman of the year, swimmer Natalie Coughlin and gymnast Nastia Liukin were co-winners of the sportswoman award and the men’s volleyball team was named team of the year.
Phelps won a record eight gold medals in Beijing. Coughlin set five American records, one an Olympic record. Liukin won the women’s all-around gold medal and four others. The men’s volleyball team did not lose a match.