Katie Ledecky's stirring message as she wins ESPY best female athlete award: “Find something you really love…Go for the gold”

The American swimmer is fresh from winning four gold medals at the 2022 World Championships in Budapest. Olympic champions Eileen Gu, Caeleb Dressel and Klay Thompson were also among the winners at the awards ceremony on Wednesday 20 July.

By Olympics.com
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Seven-time Olympic swimming gold medallist Katie Ledecky was named best female athlete on Wednesday (20 July) at the 2022 ESPY awards in Los Angeles.

Baseball star pitcher Shohei Ohtani won the award as best athlete in the men's sports category and best MBL player.

Ledecky was one of several Olympians honoured at the ESPY awards hosted by four-time NBA winner Stephen Curry, who was also named the best NBA player.

Olympic champions Ailing (Eileen) Gu, Caeleb Dressel and Klay Thompson were also honoured at the ESPY awards.

READ MORE: How Katie Ledecky harnesses the power of failure in her pursuit of greatness

At the recently held 2022 World Championships, 25-year-old Ledecky won four gold medals to boost her medal haul at the event to 22 medals (19 gold). The American swimmer was picked for top ESPY award ahead of other nominees that included artistic gymnast Sunisa Lee, Ukrainian Paralympic superstar Oksana Masters, and WNBA star Candace Parker.

As she received her award, the most medalled female swimmer in history encouraged young people to pursue their passions.

“To all of the young athletes out there… find something that you really love, that you’re good at, that can be a positive force in our world,” she said after receiving the award won by Naomi Osaka in 2021.

“Something that can inspire somebody else, something that can help somebody else, anything that can change our world.

"There are so many heroes, not just in sports, but all around us... look to those people as role models and go for the gold."

Freestyle skier Gu, who was born in the U.S. but competes for China, won the breakthrough athlete of 2022 after taking double gold in big air and half-pipe, and silver in slopestyle at Beijing 2022.

READ MORE: Ailing (Eileen) Gu: My mission is to use sport as a force for unity"

ESPYS 2022

Golden State Warriors guard Thompson, who was part of the American team that defended their Olympic title at Rio 2016, earned the comeback award.

The 32-year-old missed the entire 2020-21 season after tearing his Achilles in 2019. He returned in January this year and was instrumental in helping the Warriors reach the 2022 NBA Finals.

Former boxer and now mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko of Ukraine received the award for courage.

2022 ESPYS: Full list of winners

  • Katie Ledecky (Best Women's Athlete, Best Women's Olympian)
  • Shohei Ohtani (Best Men's Athlete)
  • Caeleb Dressel (Best Men's Olympian)
  • Kylian Mbappe (Best International Athlete, Men's soccer)
  • Sam Kerr (Best International Athlete, Women's soccer)
  • Megan Rapinoe (Best Play)
  • Golden State Warriors (Best Team)
  • Dick Vitale (Jimmy V Award for Perseverance)
  • Gretchen Evans (Pat Tillman Award for Service)
  • Vitali Klitschko (Arthur Ashe for Courage Award)
  • Denver Broncos (Humanitarian Team of the Year)
  • Charles Oliveira (Best MMA Fighter)
  • Jocelyn Alo (Best College Athlete, Women's Sports)
  • Bryce Young (Best College Athlete, Men's Sports)
  • Shohei Ohtani (Best MLB Player)
  • Cooper Kupp (Best NFL Player)
  • Stephen Curry (Best NBA Player)
  • Candace Parker (Best WNBA Player)
  • Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills in AFC Divisional Game (Best Game)
  • Cooper Kupp (Best Championship Performance)
  • Albert Pujols (Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award)
  • Eileen Gu (Best Breakthrough Athlete)
  • Klay Thompson (Best Comeback Athlete)

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