Mia Hamm, who helped lead the U.S. soccer team to the 1999 Women's World Cup title, and future LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster today were named sportswomen of the year by the Women's Sports Foundation.
Hamm, a 1989 graduate of Lake Braddock High School in Burke, was chosen in the team category. Inkster, who qualified for the LPGA Hall of Fame with her 22nd career victory last month, was selected in the individual category.
The awards to Hamm and Inkster were announced at a news conference at a hotel here as part of the foundation's 20th annual Salute to Women in Sports. They were to be presented at a banquet tonight.
"This has been a tremendous year for all of us," Hamm said, referring to the soccer team. "This is a great way to end it. . . . This summer was everything we had ever dreamed it would be and more."
The United States defeated China in a 5-4 penalty kick tiebreaker after a scoreless tie in regulation July 10 to win the Cup. Hamm scored one of the five penalty kicks. Before the event, she set the international scoring record for men and women when she recorded her 108th goal in a match against Brazil on May 22.
Inkster, a 17-year veteran of the LPGA Tour, is coming off her best year. On Sept. 26, she secured her spot in the Hall of Fame with a six-stroke victory at the Safeway LPGA Golf Championship in Portland, Ore. It was her fifth tournament title this season and her first since she won the LPGA Championship in Wilmington, Del., in June.
She has finished in the top 10 in 16 of 21 tournaments this year. Overall, she has 22 career victories, including five majors.
"Being 39 and having the year that I'm having, I think I just appreciate what's going on right now," said Inkster, who a few years ago considered leaving the tour because she wasn't playing well. "I'm enjoying it and enjoying my life and it's coming off in my golf."
Inkster, who is the 17th player to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame, has earned $1.3 million this year, placing her second on the tour money list to Karrie Webb of Australia. She will be inducted next year.
Track star Gail Devers was among other athletes who were honored by the foundation today. Devers, a 1992 and 1996 Olympic gold medalist, has battled Graves Disease throughout her career, and received the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award. Deborah Slaner Larkin, former executive director of the foundation, won the Billie Jean King Contribution Award.
Also, four women were inducted into the foundation's International Women's Sports Hall of Fame: LPGA Hall of Famer Sandra Haynie; marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson; Betty Jameson, one of the organization's founders; and Tina Sloan Green, the first African American female head coach in women's intercollegiate lacrosse.