Athletes of the Year 2014

USADSF is thrilled to recognize both Emily and John for their passion, commitment and contribution to their sports, as well for their success in 2014.

Emily Hangstefer

Emily Hangstefer playing tennis

Emily Hangstefer had an outstanding performance at the Dresse/Maere Cups held on July 14 – 19, 2014, in Chattanooga, TN.   Emily started off the tournament by defeating the number one ranked player in the world in singles. She then defeated the Russian team and the Great Britain team.  Moving on into the semifinals, Emily faced the number 4 ranked player from Spain who beat Emily at the 2013 Deaflympics in Bulgaria.   Emily beat the Spanish player and this helped move Team USA into the final round against Chinese-Taipei.  Emily defeated the Chinese-Taipei player who is ranked the number 2 player in the world.  Emily then saw her only loss in doubles against a very strong Chinese-Taipei duo in the final match of the tournament, and resulted in helping the USA team win the silver medal.

This is the second consecutive year Emily has been selected as the USADSF Sportswoman of the Year, as she continues to give strong performances for USA Deaf Tennis.

John Klish

Portrait image of John Klish smiling in his USA uniform

John Klish had built his reputation with endurance events such as Xterra triathlons where he won the National Championship for his age group, showshoeing, randonee skiing, and mountain bike and cyclocross races.   While doing all of this, Klish also built his own company for Deaf athletes, Deaflete, and is currently promoting cycling events locally in Colorado.

In the world of Deaf sports, Klish made quite the entrance at the Tour of Formosa (Taiwan) placing 6th while supporting our own Nicholas Schreiber to second place at the same stage race. John followed that up with an impressive Deaflympics debut in Sofia winning the gold in Points Race by a wide margin after surprising the field with a long-range attack and holding it all the way to the end.  Paul recalls his first impression upon meeting John at Sofia:

“Before I met him in person first time at Deaflympics at Sofia, Bulgaria, I heard about him racing the endurance events and mountain bike events but not road events.   My first impression with him was his preparation, nutrition, supplements and strange exercising tools. He blew my mind out when he lapped a strong field in the Deaflympics point race!!”

However, it is at the most recent 2014 Tour of Formosa where Klish’s racing acumen came to the forefront.  Against possibly one of the strongest Deaf cycling field in recent history that was also combined with local hearing cyclists, John placed second.  During the weeklong tactical race with each move being matched and countered, he was able to rely on his own patience and maximize his teammates to help him secure second place.  Not only is he an excellent tactican on the bike (in all disciplines), he is also the Vice-President of US Deaf Cycling Association.