The writers at Kidzworld.com took a look at the top teen athletes of 2006 and here's the list they came up with. Do you have your own? Is there someone they missed, let us know.
Since winning the 2004 Wimbledon tennis tournament at the age of 17, Maria Sharapova has become more than just a famous athlete - she's a brand name! Besides being a top-ranked tennis star, Sharapova has a clothing line, her own perfume and millions of dollars worth of other endorsements. Teen tennis stars often don't have a shelf-life much longer than a boy-band, but with her good looks and over-powering serve, Sharapova should be a star on the tennis court long after K-Fed's made his third trip to rehab.
It seems like Ryan Sheckler has been around forever - but this teen skateboarding star is still only 16. Sheckler turned pro when he was 13 and in 2003, he became the youngest gold medalist in X Games history. He now has his own line of skate shoes, has appeared in dozens of skate videos and is one of the best street skateboarders in the world. Sheckler was also featured in Tony Hawk's Project 8 video game.
When she was 13, Elena Hight became the first female snowboarder to land a 900 in competiton. Since then, the Hawaiian halfpipe star has competed at the X Games and the 2006 Winter Olympics, where she was the youngest member of the US snowboarding team. Hight is a one of the brightest stars in female snowboarding and has helped push the sport to new heights.
Shaun White has been a pro snowboarder ever since he turned 13. The 19 year-old has won eight medals at the X Games and is the only athlete to compete at the event in both snowboarding and skateboarding. With his red hair and big airs, White has become known as The Flying Tomato and is the world's most famous snowboarder. He also won the gold medal in half-pipe snowboarding at the 2006 Winter Olympics and has appeared in a ton of
With her long legs and longer drives, Michelle Wie has become the biggest name in golf since Tiger Woods. Wie has been playing in LPGA events since she was 13 and has even entered several PGA events, where's she's golfed against some of the best male players in the world. Wie has yet to win any professional events but she's already making millions from endorsement deals with Sony and Nike. Wie says she'd like to become the first woman to play at the Masters, so don't be surprised if you see her teeing off with Tiger in the near future.
Freddy Adu has been playing pro soccer for DC United of Major League Soccer for the past three years. The 17 year-old has become one of the league's most exciting players and in January 2006, Adu became the youngest player to play for the US National Team. His popularity has led to a million-dollar endorsement deal from Nike and the chance to date fellow teen celebrity JoJo.
Sidney Crosby has certainly lived up to the hype which surrounded the teen hockey star when he entered the National Hockey League in 2005. In his rookie season, the 18 year-old winger led the Pittsburgh Penguins in scoring and became an instant star in the NHL. Crosby is expected to become the team's youngest ever captain in 2006 and should be a hockey superstar for years to come.
Dallas Friday already has four gold medals from the X Games on her trophy shelf and the wakeboarding sensation is just 19. Friday is the undisputed Queen of the Wakeboarding World and has pushed the sport to new levels with mind-blowing aerials and a wide arsenal of sick tricks. Friday doesn't have any plans on slowing down and hopes to break Dave Mirra's record for total medals won at the X Games.
Kimmie Meissner stepped out of the shadow of fellow American, Sasha Cohen, by winning the 2006 World Figure Skating Championships at the age of 16. Meissner won the gold while competing at the World Championships for the first time and had the figure skating world saying, "Sasha who?". Meissner also placed sixth at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy and was nominated for an ESPY award as Breakthrough Athlete of the Year.
Park Tae-hwan may not exactly be a household name in North America but the Korean is a rising swimming star. The 16 year-old won a gold in the 400-meter freestyle at the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships, making him the first Korean swimmer to win a gold in any international event. Park competed for Korea at 2004 Olympics when he was just 14 and will be a gold-medal favorite at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.