Award Presentation is April 9, 2002 at New York Athletic Club

Indianapolis – The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) today announced that 2001 World Championships Gold and Silver Medalist Sean Townsend is among the top five finalists for the 72nd Annual AAU James E. Sullivan Memorial Award, which recognizes the top amateur athlete in the nation for 2001. Townsend would be the second gymnast ever bestowed the honor as Kurt Thomas won in 1979.

Townsend and other finalists Natalie Coughlin (swimming), Michelle Kwan (figure skating), Mark Prior (baseball) and Alan Webb (track and field) were selected based on their qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship and the ideals of amateurism in the year 2001. The recipient of the award will be formally announced at the award’s new presentation site, The New York Athletic Club, on April 9, 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.”
Considered the “Oscar” of sports awards, the AAU James E. Sullivan Award has been presented to prominent athletes of our time including last year’s recipient 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), the late Florence Griffith-Joyner (1988) and the first recipient the late, great golfer Robert Jones.
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.
A 700-member panel of AAU board of directors, the U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors, the AAU Sullivan Committee, past Sullivan Award winners, and select members of the sports media vote on the winner. The AAU Sullivan Award recipient receives a bronze replica of the original trophy that depicts the figure of a runner carrying a laurel branch mounted on a black pedestal. The AAU James E. Sullivan Memorial Award will be housed permanently in the Hall of Fame Section of the New York Athletic Club.
The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is one of the largest, non-profit, volunteer, sports organizations in the United States. A multi-sport organization, the AAU is dedicated exclusively to the promotion and development of amateur sports and physical fitness programs for all ages. Nearly 500,000 participants and over 50,000 volunteers share our philosophy of “Sports for All, Forever. Divided into 58 distinct associations, the AAU sanctions more than 34 sports programs, 250 national championships and over 10,000 local events across the United States annually. For more information on the AAU please visit their website at