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Nastia Liukin

Nastia Liukin

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LOS ANGELES — Michael Phelps is still reaping rewards for his record haul of eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.He won a leading five ESPY Awards, including male athlete of the year, ending the five-year reign of Tiger Woods, who earned his record 22nd trophy Wednesday night.The 14-time Olympic gold medalist also collected trophies for record-breaking performance, championship performance, and male Olympian while sharing the best moment award as part of the victorious 400-meter freestyle swimming relay at the Beijing Games."This all started with a dream when I was a kid to do something no else has done before," Phelps said on stage.

"I was able to do it in such an amazing year in sports."Olympic all-around gymnastics champion Nastia Liukin won female athlete of the year.The show honoring the previous year's top athletes, events and teams airs Sunday on ESPN.Phelps' only other ESPY came in 2005, when he was chosen male Olympian following his haul of six gold medals at the 2004 Athens Games.Phelps' relay teammates Cullen Jones and Garrett Weber-Gale joined him in accepting the best moment, with relay anchor Jason Lezak appearing via satellite from Israel, where he's competing."Every time I watch that race, I still can't believe we actually did win.

A lot of this goes to Jason," Phelps said.

"It definitely couldn't have been done without him, Cullen and Garrett."He wasn't the only swimmer honored.

Dara Torres, who at 41 won three silver medals in her fifth Olympics, received the comeback award.

She asked for a chair to sit on backstage to rest her ailing left knee that will require surgery later this summer."At my age, it's really hard to say I'm going to do this in three years," Torres said backstage.

"I love racing the youngsters, but I don't really know how my body will hold up."Liukin defeated Wimbledon winner Serena Williams, Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker, Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin and Connecticut basketball player Maya Moore for female athlete."It's still a little surreal," Liukin said backstage.

"It's definitely going to add a little bit of weight to my purse on the way home."Woods won male golfer honors for the fifth consecutive year, giving him a career total of 22 ESPYs.

He is in Scotland to play in the British Open beginning Thursday.Besides Woods, Phelps outpolled NBA superstars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson for male athlete.Bryant still took home some hardware, sharing the team award with his NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers team.
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