Sarah Hughes Named a Finalist for 2002 Sullivan Award

Sarah Hughes' gold medal performance at the Olympics.

Sarah Hughes' gold medal performance at the Olympics. Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hughes has been named one of 11 first-round finalists for the 73rd Annual AAU James E. Sullivan Memorial Award, which recognizes the top amateur athlete in the nation. The 73rd award will recognize achievements in the 2002 calendar year.

The first round finalists are: Nick Collison (basketball); Natalie Coughlin (swimming); Sarah Hughes (skating); LeBron James (basketball); George Kotaka (karate); Stacey Nuveman (softball); Nicole Ohlde (basketball); Apolo Anton Ohno (speedskating); Derek Parra (speedskating); Cael Sanderson (wrestling); and Chris Waddell (Paralympic alpine skiing and track and field).

The AAU Sullivan Award recognizes athletes who have achieved athletic excellence, exhibit leadership, character, sportsmanship and the ideals of amateurism. It has been presented annually by the AAU since 1930 as a salute to founder and past president of the AAU, and a pioneer in amateur sports, James E. Sullivan.

A 10-member AAU Sullivan Committee selected the 11 finalists from an initial group of 50 nominations. Ballots to select the top five and the 2002 winner were mailed today to an 800-member voting body consisting of AAU Board of Directors, United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Board of Directors, Select Media, and 2001 AAU Sullivan Award Event Attendees. The top five finalist and the National recipient will be formally recognized and announced March 18th, 2003 at the New York Athletic Club in New York City.

"This year's selection of award finalists represents a diverse group of athletes participating in both individual and team sports," said AAU President Bobby Dodd. "The common thread that links our finalists is that they are not only first-class athletes, but first-class individuals as well. We hope that they will continue to serve as positive role models for the youth of America."

Considered the "Oscar" of sports awards, the AAU James E. Sullivan Award has been presented to prominent athletes of our time including last year's recipient Michelle Kwan. Others include: Peyton Manning (1997), William "Bill" Bradley (1965), Dan Jansen (1994), Janet Evans (1989), Jim Abbott (1987), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1986), Greg Louganis (1984), and the late Florence Griffith-Joyner (1988).