Special Olympics World Games Named Top Local Sports Moment of 2015
March 3, 2016
The remarkably successful Special Olympics World Games, held in Los Angeles last summer, was named the top sports moment of 2015 at the 11th Annual LA Sports Awards, held last weekend at The Beverly Hilton Hotel.
The LA Sports Awards are produced annually by the Los Angeles Sports Council to celebrate the greatest moments of the year in the Los Angeles/Orange County area.
In other award presentations, Blake Griffin was honored as 2015 Sportsman of the Year and the FIFA World Cup Champion U.S. Women’s National Team was named Sportswomen of the Year. USC football coach Clay Helton received the Coach of the Year award and Special Olympics World Games President and CEO Patrick McClenahan was the recipient of the Sports Executive of the Year.
A special Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Los Angeles Dodgers Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully.
During the festivities, the overall Top 10 moments of 2015 — as selected by a 10-member Media Panel combined with the results of online fan voting — were revealed in ranked order. They are:
1. Los Angeles Hosts 2015 Special Olympics World Games—Returning to the United States for the first time since 1999, the quadrennial World Games featured the largest gathering of nations in Los Angeles history: 6,163 athletes and 2,651 coaches and officials from 164 countries. The Games produced a memorable display of sports and social action for athletes, coaches, and spectators in Los Angeles as well as a worldwide ESPN television audience (July 25-August 2).
2. American Pharoah Wins Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup Classic—Santa Anita-based American Pharoah, who trained at the legendary track under Bob Baffert, won the Belmont Stakes to become one of only 12 horses to win racing’s Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes) and the first since 1978. He then cemented his place in thoroughbred racing history by winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland, Kentucky, by 6 ½ lengths, becoming the first horse to complete a “Grand Slam” by winning all four major races (June 6 and October 31).
3. Greinke and Kershaw: Most Dominating Pitching Teammates in 50 Years—The Dodgers' Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw proved to be the most potent pair of starting pitchers on the same team in more than 50 years. Between them they led the majors in earned run average (Greinke) and strikeouts and innings pitched (Kershaw) and had combined statistics not seen in a team’s top two starters since Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale in 1964. The two finished second and third in the National League Cy Young voting (November 18).
4. Kobe Bryant Announces His Retirement—Lakers great Kobe Bryant, saying, “This season is all I have left to give,” announced he will retire at the end of the current season, having won five NBA titles and establishing himself as one of the best ever to play the game of basketball (November 29).
5. Mike Trout’s Sensational Catch—After being named All-Star Game Most Valuable Player for the second straight year, Angels outfielder Mike Trout validated that honor with an astonishing, over-the-centerfield wall catch. The top half of Trout’s body was above the wall as he robbed Seattle’s Jesus Montero of a three-run home run, at Angel Stadium (September 26).
6. Los Angeles Chosen as U.S. Candidate City for the 2024 Olympics—The United States Olympic Committee selected Los Angeles as its official candidate for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, marking the first time since 1977 that the USOC chose Los Angeles for the honor and launching the city on a two-year international campaign. The International Olympic Committee will vote to elect the 2024 host city from among L.A., Paris, Rome and Budapest in September of 2017 (September 1).
7. Rose Bowl Hosts Thrilling CONCACAF Cup Final —With a berth in the eight-team 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup on the line, Mexico scored with two minutes left in extra time to record a 3-2 victory over the United States before a capacity crowd of 93,723 at the Rose Bowl (October 10).
8. USC Beats UCLA to Win Pac-12 South—Cody Kessler threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score as the Trojans defeated the Bruins at the Coliseum, 40-21, to advance to the Pac-12 Championship Game for the first time in the game’s five-year history (November 28).
9. Clippers Defeat San Antonio, 4-3, in NBA Playoffs—Chris Paul, playing on an injured hamstring, banked in a shot over Tim Duncan with one second to go to lift the Clippers over the defending NBA champion Spurs, 111-109, in a dramatic Game 7 at Staples Center (May 2).
10. Three NFL Teams Vie to Move to Los Angeles—The Chargers, Raiders and Rams declared their formal interest in moving to Los Angeles by sponsoring privately financed—and competing—stadium projects in Carson and Inglewood. It’s the first time in the NFL’s 20-year absence that team owners, rather than non-owners, have proposed to build a new football stadium. A decision by the NFL was pending at year-end (Various dates).
A “moment” can be a specific instant in time (a winning goal, hit or shot), an individual or team milestone, an upset victory, a remarkable game or series of games, a special event or a career achievement. Nominated moments must have taken place in the local area or have involved a local athlete or team.
The L.A. Sports Council is a non-profit organization and will utilize the event’s proceeds to further its mission of promoting economic development through sports in Southern California. For further information, please visit the Sports Council website at http://www.lasports.org.