INDIANAPOLIS – Kristen Maloney (Pen Argyl, Pa.) is among the 11 amateur athletes who have advanced to the final ballot for the 69th Annual James E. Sullivan Award, presented by the Amateur Athletic Union.
The other 10 athletes who advanced from the original field of 23 nominees are: Elton Brand (Duke University basketball player), Pat Burrell (University of Miami baseball player), Jenny Chuasiriporn (Duke University golfer), Tim Couch (University of Kentucky football player), Sammie Henson (wrestler), Chamique Holdsclaw (University of Tennessee basketball player), Matt Kuchar (Georgia Tech golfer), Mark Ruiz (diving), Angelo Taylor (Georgia Tech sprinter), and Ricky Williams (University of Texas football player).
At the age of 17, Maloney is the youngest of the athletes nominated for the award. The reigning national champion in women’s gymnastics, she enjoyed a stellar year in 1998, which was capped by her victory at the 1998 John Hancock U.S. Gymnastics Championships, held in August in Indianapolis. She began the year by successfully defending her all-around title at the American Classic, the first major domestic meet of the season, held in mid-February in Orlando.
On the international scene, Maloney claimed the all-around bronze medal at the Visa American Cup in Fort Worth, Texas, in the first weekend in March, then closed the month by leading Team USA to the gold medal at the International Team Championship, a team triangular meet against China and reigning world champion Romania. In that meet, Maloney’s clutch performance on the balance beam was the steadying influence at a time when it appeared the USA’s gold-medal hopes were in danger.
In July, Maloney closed out her international competition schedule in style, taking the all-around gold medal and propelling the USA to a team victory at the 1998 Senior Pacific Alliance Championships, held in Winnipeg, Canada, site of the 1999 Pan American Games. She then headed to New York City, where she won gold medal in the balance beam at the 1998 Goodwill Games.
The athlete named the winner of the 1998 Sullivan Award will join a list of past winners which reads like a Who’s Who in the field of amateur sports with such names as Dan Jansen (1994), Janet Evans (1989), Carl Lewis (1981), Wilma Rudolph (1961) and Sammy Lee (1953). Although a number of gymnasts have been among the award finalists, only one, Kurt Thomas (1979), has been named the winner.
Established in 1930, the award is named for the founder and first president of the AAU, James E. Sullivan. The winner is decided in balloting by 1,200 voters, including the AAU Board of Directors, the AAU Sullivan Award Committee, past award recipients, the United States Olympic Committee Board of Directors and selected sports media representatives. Announcement of the winner is planned in February.