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Natalie Coughlin Named Sullivan Award Finalist
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  02/12/2003

Feb. 12, 2003

ORLANDO, Fla.-- - 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): Claimed the Olympic gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics in February, becoming the first person in figure skating history to rebound from fourth place to win an Olympic gold medal since the short program-free skate scoring system was introduced at the 1992 Olympic Winter Games... Skated one of the most technically demanding programs ever attempted in an Olympic ladies competition including two clean triple-triple combinations (triple Salchow/triple loop and triple toe/triple loop) ... At 16, she also became the fourth youngest Olympic ladies figure skating champion of all time... Finished second at Skate America and Trophee Lalique... Took home third place finishes at the U.S. Championships and the Grand Prix Final ... Hughes claimed the 2002 ESPY award for "Best U.S. Olympian" was selected as the March of Dimes Sportswoman of the Year ... Named spokesperson for General Electric and for Campbell's Soup "Labels for Education" program.... Named by the USFSA to the Chevrolet/USFSA Scholastic Honors Team ... A high school senior at Great Neck North High School, she gained early accepted to Harvard University but has yet to formally announced her plans for college.

Apolo Anton Ohno (Short Track Speedskating): At the Winter Olympics, Ohno had his shining moment as an athlete, after leading the men's 1000-meters, there was a crash on the final turn, he crawled to the finish line for the silver medal. Despite losing a sure gold medal, Apolo was thrilled with his medal and graciously congratulated the winner, Stephen Bradbury of Australia. During the accident, Apolo was injured and received stitches in his leg. He rebounded to capture the gold medal in the men's 1500-meters four days later... Won seven of eight events to capture men's title at the Olympic Trials... 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... Won both World Cup events he entered in 2002 (Russia and Italy), accumulating six gold medals and two silver medals overall.

Cael Sanderson (Wrestling): Won fourth NCAA Division I wrestling title, becoming the first to win all four years and end career undefeated (159-0) ... Became the overall career wins leader for wrestling at Iowa State University... Outstanding wrestler at NCAA Championships for the fourth straight time... Three Time winner of the Dan Hodge Award for the Nation's Top Collegiate Wrestler... ESPY award winner for nation's top male 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... First wrestler to ever be featured on a "Wheaties Box"... Sanderson currently is an assistant in the Iowa State Athletics Department and training for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.

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 during his freshman year of college, he holds 32 national titles in alpine disabled skiing and another 17 national titles in wheelchair track and field... Waddell also holds 18 Paralympic and World medals in alpine skiing and 4 in track and field...Named one of the 25 Greatest Skiers in North America by Skiing Magazine... Waddell was a consultant on Paralympic issues for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee 2002 Winter Olympics... he currently travels the country as a motivational speaker on the Paralympic movement.

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. For more information on the AAU please visit its web site at www.aausports.org.


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