Natalie Is A Finalist for Sullivan Award

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Feb. 12. FOR the second-straight year, swimming sensation Natalie Coughlin (Concord, Calif./UC Berkeley) has been named a finalist for the AAU's James E. Sullivan Memorial Award honoring the nation's top amateur athlete.
The announcement by the AAU confirms two stories on SwimInfo last week.

Coughlin is the only returning nominee and is being recognized for an outstanding 2002 in which she became the first woman to swim the 100m back under one minute, won five U.S. national titles at one national championship (a feat only Tracy Caulkins, in 1978, had accomplished before her), took home six Pan Pacific medals and finished the year with four world records, twelve American records (four of which are also world marks) and six NCAA records (all are also American records). The winner of the 2002 Award will be named
March 18, 2003 at the New York Athletic Club.

Below is the AAU's official release.



ORLANDO (February 12, 2003) – The Amateur Athletic Union today announced the top five finalists for the 2002 AAU James E. Sullivan Memorial Award. Known
as the " Oscar" of the sports awards, the AAU Sullivan Award honors the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. The 2002 AAU Sullivan Award Finalists are: Natalie Coughlin, swimming; Sarah Hughes, Figure
Skating; Apolo Anton Ohno, Speed skating; Cael Sanderson, Wrestling; and Chris Waddell, Paralympic athlete Skiing and Track and Field. The presentation to the recipient will be held on March 18th, 2003 at 7:00pm in the New York Athletic Club following a dinner reception for the five finalists.

"What an amazing array of athletes this year's group of finalists represent. These are the best of the best in amateur athletics," said Bobby Dodd, AAU
President. "We could not be more proud of these fine young athletes. They uphold the true values and ideals of the award and the AAU with their outstanding athletic performances, coupled with their fine display of honor and integrity in every day life."

Meet the 2002 AAU Sullivan Award Five Finalists:

Natalie Coughlin (Swimming): Broke a total of broke a total of 22 records in 2002 (4 World records, 12 American records and 6 NCAA records)… Currently holds five World Records… In December, Coughlin destroyed the oldest American record on the books (1981) and by over a second in the 200-yard butterfly… won the 100m backstroke in world record time, becoming the first woman to swim the event under one minute… At the Pan Pacific Games won all three of her individual events… In the 100m free, she became the first American woman to swim the event under 54 seconds (53.99), setting a new championships record to win gold… Won the 100m back and 100m fly as
well as led the Americans to gold in the 800m free relay and silver in the 400m free and medley relays… Broke 100m backstroke in less than a minute at the 2002 U.S. National Championships where she became the first swimmer to win five individual titles since 1978… Named Female World Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World magazine, NCAA Swimmer of Year, USA Swimming Athlete of the Year and Performance of the Year… Was one of five finalists in 2001 AAU Sullivan Award.

Sarah Hughes (Figure Skating): Won the Gold Medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics by delivering one of the most technically demanding programs ever performed… Finished second at Skate America and Trophee Lalique… Took home third place finishes at the U.S. Championships and the Grand Prix Final.

Apolo Anton Ohno (Short Track Speedskating): Won gold in the 1500-meters and took silver in the 1000-meters at the 2002 Winter Olympics…Won seven of eight events to capture men's title… Set World Record in 1500-meters with a time of 2:13.728 at the Olympic Trials…His silver medal was the first ever individual medal by an American male short track speedskater while his gold was also a first for an American short track male skater at the Olympics.

Cael Sanderson (Wrestling): Won fourth NCAA Division One wrestling titles, becoming the first to win all four years and end career undefeated (159-0)… Outstanding wrestler at NCAA Championships for fourth straight time…ESPY award winner for nation's top college athlete… 2002 U.S. National Champion in freestyle at 185 lbs… defeated 1996 Olympic champion
Khajimurd Magomedov of Russia to become the Number One wrestler in the USA.

Chris Waddell (Paralympic Alpine Skiing and Track and Field): At the 2002 Winter Paralympic Games, won silver medal in downhill skiing and bronze medal in the giant slalom and slalom… Placed 4th and in the 100 meter and 6th in the 200 meter IPC Athletics World Championships… paralyzed from the waist down due to a skiing accident, he holds 32 national titles in alpine disabled skiing and another 17 national titles in wheelchair track and field.

A voting body of over 800 members narrowed the field of finalists from 11 to the top five for the 73rd Annual AAU James E. Sullivan Memorial Award, based
on the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship, and the ideals of amateurism.

The AAU Sullivan Award goes far beyond athletic accomplishments and honors those who have shown strong moral character. It has been presented annually by the AAU since 1930 as a salute to founder and past president of the Amateur Athletic Union, and a pioneer in amateur sports, James E. Sullivan.

The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is one of the largest, non-profit, volunteer, sports organizations in the United States. A multi-sport organization, the AAU is dedicated exclusively to the promotion and
development of amateur sports and physical fitness programs for all ages. Its philosophy of "Sports for All, Forever," is shared by nearly 500,000 participants and over 50,000 volunteers. Divided into 57 associations, the AAU sanctions more than 34 sports programs, 250 national championships, and over 10,000 local events across the United States annually.

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