LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., March 7. IS a repeat in the future for Michael Phelps? Maybe. Monday, Phelps was named one of the 10 finalists for the James E. Sullivan Award, presented annually to the nation's top amateur athlete. Phelps was joined as a finalist by fellow Olympic swimmer, Natalie Coughlin.
Phelps is the reigning Sullivan Award winner and could become the first person in history to repeat the honor, which has been presented since 1930. The award is named after the founder of the Amateur Athletic Union and will be awarded April 13 in New York.
Phelps' credentials appear difficult to top. Last summer, he left the Athens Olympics with eight medals, including six gold. He opened the Olympic competition with a world-record setting swim in the 400 individual medley.
Now competing for Club Wolverine, Phelps was superb over the weekend at the American Short Course Championships in Austin, Texas. Aside from setting an American record in the 200-yard freestyle, Phelps won the 200 I.M., 400 I.M. and 100 freestyle.
Coughlin, who won five events at the American Short Course Champs, picked up a five-medal haul at last summer's Olympics. Individually, Coughlin won gold in the 100 backstroke and took bronze in the 100 freestyle. She also won three relay medals for the United States, including gold as a member of the world-record setting 800 freestyle relay.
Other finalists include gymnasts Carly Patterson and Paul Hamm and Heisman Trophy quarterback Matt Leinart. Patterson and Hamm won Olympic all-around titles and Patterson helped the U.S. to silver in the team competition. Leinart, meanwhile, guided Southern California to its second straight national football championship.
The other six finalists for the Sullivan Award are Jeremy Wariner (track and field), Cael Sanderson (wrestling), Elisha Au (karate), Steven Lopez (taekwondo) and Andre Ward (boxing).
Phelps and Patterson, respectively, were named the United States Olympic Committee's Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year.