Cal's Natalie Coughlin Selected as a Sullivan Award Finalist

Jan. 17, 2002

BERKELEY, CA - Natalie Coughlin, a sophomore swimmer at Cal, has been named one of the 14 finalists for the 72nd Annual AAU James E. Sullivan Memorial Award that recognizes the top amateur athlete in the nation.

Coughlin, the 2001 Pac-10 and NCAA Swimmer of Year, joins Tony Azevedo (water polo), Michelle Kwan (figure skating), Matt Lindland (wrestling), Stephen Lopez (taekwondo), Ryan Miller (hockey), Toccara Montgomery (wrestling), Brandon Paulson (wrestling), Mark Prior (baseball), Jason Reed (rowing), Sean Townsend (gymnastics), Allen Webb (track and field), Angela Williams (track and field) and Roy Williams (football) on the list of the 14 finalists.

Narrowed from a field of 30 nominees, the first-round finalists will be reduced to five athletes and their names will be released in mid-March. From the five names, the National winner will be formally recognized in early April.

Over a five-day span earlier this fall, Coughlin won nine events and in the process set two world records, two American records and six meet records. At the FINA World Cup in East Meadow, NY, Nov. 27-28, she broke the 100 (57.08) and 200 (2:03.52) short course meters world records. In the 50 fly (25.83), Coughlin broke the US Open record. She then traveled to the Texas Invitational Nov. 30-Dec. 2 in Austin, TX and broke the American record in the 100 back (50.90) and posted times that lead the nation in the 50 free (22.21), 100 free (47.76), 200 free (1:43.77) and 100 fly (51.22).

The Sullivan Award, given to the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States, is based on qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship and the ideals of amateurism. Both athletic accomplishment and strong moral character are considered by a 800 member panel of AAU board of directors, the U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors, the AAU Sullivan Committee, past Sullivan Award winners and a select members of the sports media.

'These individuals exemplify the best amateur athletes in all of sport with their commitment to sportsmanship, community, and education,' said AAU President Bobby Dodd. 'The AAU represents 34 sports from the grass roots to the national level and they are the role models for our athletes to follow.'

Considered the 'Oscar' of sports awards, the AAU James E. Sullivan Award has been presented to prominent athletes, including last year's recipient Olympic Golf Medalist, Rulon Gardner. Others include: Chamique Holdsclaw (1998), 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).

The AAU James E. Sullivan Memorial Award 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. The winner of the AAU Sullivan Award receives a bronze replica of the original trophy that depicts the figure of a runner carrying a laurel branch mounted on a black pedestal.

For more information on the AAU please visit their website at www.aausports.org or contact Melissa Wilson at 407-828-5636.

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