Cal's Natalie Coughlin Selected One of Five Finalists For Sullivan Award

March 12, 2002

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

The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) announced the names of the five finalists -- Natalie Coughlin (swimming), Michelle Kwan (skating), Mark Prior (baseball), Sean Townsend (gymnastics) and Alan Webb (track and field) -- who were selected based on their qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship and the ideals of amateurism in the year 2001. The recipient will be formally announced at the award's new presentation site, The New York Athletic Club, on April 9th, 2002.

'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, they are the role models for our athletes to follow. It will be hard to announce one recipient on April 9th.'

Over a five-day span earlier this winter, Coughlin won nine events and in the process set two world records, four 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 backstroke. In the 50 fly (25.83), Coughlin broke the US Open and American record. She then traveled to the Texas Invitational Nov. 30-Dec. 2 in Austin, Tex. 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).

At the 2002 Pac-10 Championships Feb. 28-Mar. 2 in Long Beach, Calif., Coughlin was the conference champion in the 100 back, 200 back and 200 free and helped the Bears to Pac-10 titles in the 200 medley relay and the 200 free relay. If Coughlin wins the Sullivan Award, she would be only the 10th swimmer to receive the honor in the award's 72-year history.

'I think being a finalist for the Sullivan Award is an honor for Natalie, the University and the sport of swimming,' said Cal head coach Teri McKeever. 'It acknowledges her collegiate and international successes over this past year. Natalie is not only a world class athlete, she is a quality individual and someone who epitomizes the spirit of a true student-athlete.'

Considered the 'Oscar' of sports awards, the AAU James E. Sullivan Award has been presented to prominent athletes, including last year's recipient, Olympic Gold Medallist, 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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