U.S. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and Cleveland Cavaliers centerpiece LeBron James were chosen by the Associated Press as its top male and female athletes of 2016.
Results of the vote by 59 editors from AP member newspapers and customers were announced Monday (for Biles) and Tuesday (for James).
James, who also won the honor in 2013, ended 52 years of sports heartache in 2016 by bringing a national championship to his home state and using his superstar platform to address social issues.
James collected 24 first-place votes, beating out a pair of Olympic legends: Michael Phelps (16) and Usain Bolt (9), the fastest men in water and on land, who are not accustomed to finishing behind anyone.
Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, the NL MVP who led his team to its first World Series title since 1908, tied for fourth with Golden State star guard Stephen Curry, 2015’s winner. Cristiano Ronaldo, Von Miller and Andy Murray also received votes.
James joined Michael Jordan as the only NBA players to win twice. Jordan won it three straight years from 1991-94.
Biles, who received 31 votes out of the possible 59, completed a run of dominance in 2016 that included a record-tying four gold medals to go along with a bronze at the Rio Olympics, and three straight all-around World Championships, “an unprecedented run at the top in a sport where peaks are often measured in months, not years,” notes The AP.
U.S. Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky, who won four golds and a silver in Rio, finished second with 20 votes. Serena Williams, who won Wimbledon for the seventh time to tie Steffi Graf’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles, and three-time AP women’s NCAA basketball Player of the Year Breanna Stewart tied for third with four votes each.
Biles became the fifth gymnast to win the AP Female Athlete of the Year honor, joining Olga Korbut in 1972, Nadia Comaneci in 1976, Mary Lou Retton in 1984 and Gabby Douglas in 2012.