Karolyis receive George M. Steinbrenner Sport Leadership Award
posted on 12/19/2014

© John Cheng

NEW YORK – The United States Olympic Endowment today presented two awards at its annual luncheon in New York. Olympic figure skating champion Scott Hamilton, and the distinguished coaching duo of Martha and Bela Karolyi were honored in recognition of their commitment and contributions to the Olympic and Paralympic movements.

Martha and Bela Karolyi, legendary gymnastics coaches and members of the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame, were named recipients of the George M. Steinbrenner III Sport Leadership Award. The award is presented annually to honor outstanding members of the Olympic and Paralympic family who have contributed to sport through management, sport organization endeavors or the enhancement of competitive opportunities, and who have displayed qualities of leadership, ethical conduct and dedicated responsibility during a longstanding commitment to sport.

Hamilton, a 1984 Olympic gold medalist and member of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, received the William E. Simon Award, given to individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of the Olympic and Paralympic movements. Simon – the award’s namesake – was president of the USOC from 1981-85 and served as secretary of the treasury for three years under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

The USOE was established after the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles to benefit Olympic and Paralympic sport in the United States. A nonprofit organization, its objective is to support the United States Olympic Committee and its member organizations. A separate entity from the USOC, the USOE oversees the corpus of endowed funds that resulted from the surplus from the 1984 Games.

Martha and Bela Karolyi
One of the most successful coaching teams in gymnastics history, Martha and Bela Karolyi have developed 28 U.S. Olympians, nine Olympic champions, 15 world champions and six national champions. As the coordinator for the U.S. women’s national team, Martha Karolyi oversees the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center at the Karolyi Ranch – a U.S. Olympic training site – in Huntsville, Texas, where she has created a winning formula that has produced 79 medals in Olympic and world championship competition from 2001-14. Under her leadership, the U.S. women won both their first (1996) and second (2012) Olympic team gold medals. In 1992, Bela Karolyi led the U.S. women’s team to its first Olympic medal in eight years, and then returned as a member of the coaching staff for the 1996 Olympic Games, helping the U.S. women capture their first Olympic gold medal in team competition. He was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997, and in 2000, both were inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

Scott Hamilton
One of the most-recognized male figure skaters in the world, Hamilton is also known for his sports commentary and humanitarian efforts to raise cancer awareness. A member of the United States Olympic Hall of Fame, World Figure Skating Hall of Fame and U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, Hamilton won 15 consecutive championships from 1981-84, highlighted by his gold-medal performance at the 1984 Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo. Since then, he has continued to share his love and enthusiasm for the sport as an Emmy Award-nominated commentator, performer, producer and best-selling author. A cancer and brain tumor survivor, he further inspires others as a speaker, philanthropist and humanitarian, and is actively involved in his Scott Hamilton Cares Foundation. Hamilton also serves on the board of directors for Special Olympics International and is an official spokesperson for Target House at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.