The Federation of Sports Journalists of Russia have selected the country's ten best athletes for 2008.
Unlike the U.S. where Michael Phelps was honored by Sports Illustrated or in the Netherlands where Maarten van der Weijden was selected at the Sportsman of the Year, the Federation of Sports Journalists of Russia selected the following 10 athletes its list:
Andrei Arshavin (football), Anastasia Davydova/Anastasia Ermakova (synchronized swimming), Elena Dementieva (tennis), Larisa Ilchenko (swimming), Yelena Isinbayeva (athletics), Evgeniya Kanaeva (artistic gymnastics), Maxim Opalev (rowing a canoe), Buvaysar Sites (Wrestling), Andrey Silnov (athletics) and Maxim Chudov (biathlon).
Known for her killer closing kick, the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim champion had an amazing year with a string of close-fought victories from Spain to Beijing with Swimmer of the Year awards coming from Europe to the U.S.
As fourth-place Olympic 10K Marathon Swim finisher Angela Maurer said, "The difference between Larisa and the rest [of us] is not that she is faster, but that she swims smarter than the rest of the competitors."
That is one smart lady with another well-deserved award.
Photo by Pei Qingsheng at the Beijing Olympics.