Phelps grabs more awards

NEW YORK Another unprecedented feat: the first swimmer honoured as Sports Illustrated's sportsman of the year.

NEW YORK Another unprecedented feat: the first swimmer honoured as Sports Illustrated's sportsman of the year.

Michael Phelps broke Mark Spitz's iconic record with eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in August and became the Olympian most wins ever with 14 career victories.

Olympians in other sports have earned this 54-year award before, but never a swimmer.

In 1972, the year Spitz won his medals, UCLA basketball coach John Wooden and tennis great Billie Jean King were honoured by the magazine.

Phelps told The Associated Press at a recent photo session where he posed for Sports Illustrated: "It's been a dream come true of a year, and I definitely couldn't ask to change anything."

The 23-year-old Phelps follows a more traditional winner, NFL quarterback Brett Favre. Sports Illustrated Group editor Terry McDonell called the selection of Phelps "the easiest choice I've made." "It is so obvious that he changed not only swimming, but the entire Olympic landscape," McDonell said.

Phelps captivated Americans during his record chase, driving up NBC's television ratings and inspiring conversations about swimming among people who had - Sapa-AP

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