Wyatt Allen (Portland, Maine) and Portia J. McGee (Seattle, Wash.) have been named USRowing's 2007 Male and Female Athletes of the Year, the organization announced on Thursday.
Allen, a six-time national team member and 2004 Olympic gold medalist, finished fourth in the men's eight at the 2007 FISA World Rowing Championships, capping off another strong year. In addition, the 2001 graduate of the University of Virginia finished second in the men's pair at the third 2007 USRowing National Selection Regatta. He also won gold in the men's eight and silver in the men's four at the 2007 USRowing National Championships.
"It's a really great honor, especially since it comes from your peers," said Allen of winning the award. "It's strange to be singled out when the sport is so team oriented. So many people deserve recognition. I just hope that I can build on this and put it towards something special next year."
McGee, a three-time senior national team member and graduate of Brown University, raced in two events at the 2007 World Championships. She won a gold medal in the women's four and served as a last-minute substitution in the women's pair, finishing seventh and helping the U.S. qualify the boat for the 2008 Olympic Games. With Megan Cooke getting injured just two days before the start of competition, McGee jumped into the pair with Anna Mickelson and went on to win the B final, earning the United States a berth in the event in Beijing. Less than two hours later, McGee came back to win gold in the final of the women's four. In addition to her performance at the world championships, McGee won gold in the women's eight at the 2007 FISA World Cup race in Lucerne, Switzerland, and gold in the women's eight and women's four at the 2007 USRowing National Championships.
"It's a little overwhelming and a little embarrassing," McGee said. "It's such a team sport. It's hard to be singled out and recognized when every person in the boat matters so much. I've been rowing a long time. This summer was an awesome experience, and this award means an incredible amount to me. The fact that the team votes for it makes it even more special. I'm thrilled."
The athletes and coaches of the 2007 World Championships squad selected this year's USRowing Male and Female Athletes of the Year. Allen and McGee will be honored on November 30 at the USRowing Annual Awards Reception in Miami, Fla. Both are first-time recipients of the award.