Figure skater Mao Asada, the Grand Prix Final and world junior champion this year, and Chiba Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine have been selected as the top Japanese and foreign sports figures for 2005 in voting by the Foreign Sportswriters Association of Japan.

News photo
Mao Asada (above) won the figure skating Grand Prix Final and was also the world junior
champion in 2005.

Fifteen-year-old Asada, who won the Grand Prix event in Paris last month, took first place in balloting by members of the FSAJ in the Japanese category, outpolling golfer Ai Miyazato, who finished second, and gymnast Hiroyuki Tomita, who came in third, for the honor.

Valentine, who became the first foreign-born manager ever to win the Japan Series, led the Marines to their first championship in 31 years this season and also piloted the club to victory in the inaugural Asia Series in November.

News photoBobby Valentine became the first foreign-born manager ever to win the Japan Series in 2005.

He captured the award in the foreign category over sumo star Asashoryu, who placed second, and Gamba Osaka striker Araujo and ozeki Kotooshu, who tied for third.

The FSAJ honors one top foreign and Japanese sports figure, based on their performances in Japan or representing Japan, on an annual basis.

This is the second year the awards have been handed out by the group, which is composed of foreign members of the sports media in Japan and Japanese sports media working at English-language media outlets.

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