On April 20, in Japan, the 26-year-old Patrick became the first woman to win an IndyCar Series race. The 2005 IndyCar rookie of the year will be competing in her fourth Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend.
2 of 23Joe McNally/SI
Shawn Johnson, Gymnastics
After winning the U.S. title in San Jose, the 16-year-old went to Stuttgart last September and won the world all-around title. Johnson also took gold in the floor and as part of the team competition with the U.S. She is the fourth U.S. gymnast to win a world all-around title and will be one of the favorites in Beijing if she qualifies for the U.S. team this summer.
3 of 23Simon Bruty/SI
The 22-year-old, born Marta Vieira da Silva, carried her country to its first World Cup finals appearance with tournament-leading seven goals in 2007. She was named World Footballer of the Year for the second-straight year.
4 of 23Bob Martin/SI
Allyson Felix, Sprinting
It is Felix's plan to attempt to win four gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games by doubling in the 200- and 400-meter open races and the relays. At last summer's world championships, she won the 200 in 21.81 seconds, the fastest time in the world in eight years.
5 of 23David Callow/SI
Lauren Jackson, Pro Basketball
The WNBA's reigning MVP led the league in scoring for the third time with a career-best 23.8 points per game. Jackson, 27, led Australia to a gold in the world championships and will look to do the same this summer in Beijing.
6 of 23Holly Stein/Icon SMI
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, Volleyball
Arguably the best women's beach team ever, the 30-year-old May-Treanor (left) and Walsh, 29, have combined to win nearly 100 titles. Their 89-match winning streak in both national and international play in 2003-04 is a beach-volleyball record. They won 13-of-15 AVP events they competed in and seven-of-eight FIVB titles in 2007.
7 of 23Chuck Solomon/SI
Paula Radcliffe, Marathon
Less than 10 months after giving birth to her first child, daughter Isla, and overcoming a stress fracture in her lower back, the 33-year-old dropped a 4:59 mile two that left the pack strewn behind her in the streets of Brooklyn at the New York City marathon. Radcliffe led the entire race (finishing in 2:23:09) and over the last half mile blew away her closest competitor, Gete Wami.
8 of 23Damian Strohmeyer/SI
Maya Moore, College Basketball
How good was UConn's Maya Moore last season? The 6-foot forward became the first UConn freshman to be named an All-America and set the Big East's all-time freshman scoring mark with 678 points. With Tennessee's Candace Parker now in the WNBA, UConn will be a unanimous No. 1 preseason pick come fall.
9 of 23Gerard Rancinan/SI
Guo Jingjing, Diving
At the 2007 world championships, Guo, 26, beat teammate Wu Minixia in the 3-meter springboard by a convincing margin and then joined Wu to dominate the synchronized event. In Athens she also took double gold. Guo is a major celebrity in China, where she appears in commercials, fashion shows and gossip columns and will retire after the Beijing Olympics.
10 of 23Robert Gallagher/SI
Lorena Ochoa, Golf
Ochoa, 26, took over as the No. 1 player in women's golf, dominating her tour every bit as much as the player she replaced (Annika Sorenstam) once did. She won seven times in 2007, including her first major championship, and has already won six tournaments this season.
11 of 23Damien Meyer/AFP/Getty Images, Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images
Miki Ando and Mao Asada, Figure Skating
International women's skating has been taken over by the Ando and Asada show. The 17-year-old Asada (right) won the 2008 world championship, following in the footsteps of the 20-year-old Ando, who won the 2007 title by less than one point over Asada, the 2007 and 2008 Japanese champion.
12 of 23Bob Martin/SI
Justine Henin, Tennis
Henin, 25, had been ranked No. 1 in the world for 12-consecutive months before her stunning retirement May 14. This month's French Open will help determine who will follow her as the world's best.
13 of 23Bob Martin/SI
Yelena Isinbayeva, Pole Vaulting
In '07 Isinbayeva, 25, won all 18 competitions she entered, and she has broken the indoor and outdoor records a total of 21 times; most recently the indoor mark, raising it to 4.95 meters (16-foot-2 4/10-inches) last February. No other woman has come within five inches of her '05 outdoor record of 5.01 meters (16-5 1/4).
14 of 23Peter Read Miller/SI
Haley Wickenheiser, Hockey
Canada's First Lady of Hockey was voted The Canadian Press female athlete of the year in 2007, making her the first hockey player to capture the award since it was created in 1933. The 29-year-old had eight goals and six assists at the women's world championships in 2007, winning another MVP award and her sixth world title as a member of Team Canada. She also helped Canada to a silver medal at the 2008 world championships.
15 of 23Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Lindsey Vonn, Skiing
The 23-year-old and two-time Olympian won her first-overall World Cup title in March.
16 of 23Marcus Brandt/AFP/Getty Images
Laure Manaudou, Swimming
The 21-year-old had an easy time gliding through the water at the world championships in August, winning five medals, including golds in the 200 and 400 free. Manaudou holds world freestyle records for the 200 and 400.
17 of 23Simon Bruty/SI
Jessica Long, Paralympic Swimming
Long, a bilateral below-the-knee amputee, won the 2007 Sullivan Award and was named USA Swimming's Disability Swimmer of the Year. Long, who began swimming competitively in 2002, won three gold medals at the '04 Paralympic Games and will be looking for more in Beijing.
18 of 23Bob Martin/SI
Meseret Defar, Distance Running
Defar, the IAAF Athlete of the Year, set world records in the 5,000 and the indoor 3,000 last year, and won the 5,000 at the worlds. She set the two-mile world record of 8:58.58 at the Van Damme Memorial on Sept. 14, smashing her own mark by almost 12 seconds. In January 2008 she set the world indoor two-mile record.
19 of 23Robert Seale/SI
Monica Abbott, Softball
Abbott, 22, pitched Tennessee to a runner-up finish in the College World Series last year and set a number of NCAA records that will be hard to top: career wins (189), strikeouts (2,440), shutouts (112), appearances (253) and innings pitched (1448.0). She's 6-0 with the U.S. National team this year.
20 of 23AP
Vanessa Fernandes, Triathlon
At the triathlon world championships in August, she finished 12th out of 13 competitors in the swim, moved up one spot after the bike phase, then calmly dusted the field in the 10-kilometer run to win the title with a minute to spare. Since 2004 Fernandes has won 18-of-20 World Cup events, and her 19 total victories on the circuit tied her with Australia's Emma Carney for the career record.
21 of 23Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images
Tirunesh Dibaba, Distance Running
Last August, Dibaba won gold in the 10,000-meters at the world championships, becoming the only woman to win back-to-back 10,000 titles. At the worlds she fought off Turkey's Elven Abeylegesse in the last lap after nearly exiting the race due to a searing pain in her side.
22 of 23Michele Limina/AFP/Getty Images
Lindsey Jacobellis, Snowboarding
After her infamous showboat move cost her a gold medal at the Turin Olympics in 2006, Jacobellis got serious. She won her second-straight snowboard cross world championship last January, picked up a silver medal at the X Games one week later and topped off the season in March with back-to-back World Cup victories at Whiteface Mountain near Lake Placid, N.Y., to win her first Cup title. She also won gold at the 2008 X Games.
23 of 23AP
Saori Yoshida, Wrestling
Yoshida, 25, won her fifth straight world title in 2007 and stretched her winning streak to 115 matches.
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