INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., March 21, 2008 – Jonathan Horton of Houston, who finished fourth in the all-around at the 2007 World Championships, is one of five amateur athletes chosen as finalists for the 78th James E. Sullivan Memorial Award. The winner will be chosen by votes cast by AAU officials, U.S. Olympic Committee members and college sports information directors, with fan votes counting one-third toward the final tally. Fan voting ended on March 10, and the winner will be announced on April 1 at the New York Athletic Club.
In addition to Horton, the finalists are: Jeff Lerg, Michigan State, ice hockey; Philippa Raschker, Marietta, Ga., track and field; Tim Tebow, Florida, football; and Angela Tincher, Virginia Tech, softball.
"Jonathan has established himself as one of the best gymnasts in the world," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "He had a great year in 2007, both internationally for the USA and in collegiate gymnastics at Oklahoma. This is a great honor for him, and his accomplishments reflect his hard work and dedication."
A senior at the University of Oklahoma, Horton became just the fifth U.S. man to finish in the top four at an Olympic Games or a World Championships with his fourth-place finish at the 2007 World Championships. He also was a member of the U.S. Men’s Team that finished fourth at the 2007 World Championships, which qualified the USA to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games. At 22 he is one of the younger athletes on the senior national team. Horton won his second straight Tyson American Cup earlier in 2007, as well as took top honors in the all-around at the USA/Ukraine/Russia meet in June. Horton competes on Oklahoma’s men’s gymnastics team under the leadership of Mark Williams. At the 2007 NCAA Championships, he won titles on floor and high bar. Horton also earned All-America honors in the all-around, high bar, floor exercise, still rings and vault. He broke Olympic champion Bart Conner’s OU records for career NCAA titles at five and career All-America honors with 15.
Known as the "Oscar" of sports awards and older than The Heisman, the AAU Sullivan Award honors the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. 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. 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. Kurt Thomas (1979) and Paul Hamm (2004) are the only gymnasts to have won this honor.