INDIANAPOLIS — Blaine Wilson (Columbus, Ohio), a 1996 Olympian and two-time defending all-around national champion, has been selected as one of 10 finalists for the 68th Annual James E. Sullivan Award, presented by the Amateur Athletic Union.
In 1997, Wilson became only the second man in history to win the NCAA and USA Gymnastics all-around national championship in consecutive years, matching a feat first achieved by Olympic teammate John Roethlisberger. Wilson won a total of four gold medals at the 1997 John Hancock U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Denver in August (all-around, still rings, vault and parallel bars).
In his final year of competition for Ohio State University, Wilson won the all-around and four events at the Big Ten Conference Championships, an accomplishment which helped him earn the Jesse Owens Award, which recognizes the top male athlete in the Big Ten. Wilson also won the 1997 Nissen Award, presented to the top male gymnast at the NCAA Championships.
On the international scene, Wilson won the 1997 Visa American Cup in Fort Worth, Texas, in March, emerging from a field which included 10 competitors from the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. At the 1997 World Gymnastics Championships, Wilson powered the USA team to a fifth-place finish, matching its performance at the Atlanta Olympics. Individually, Wilson held the lead a the halfway point in the individual all-around competition before finishing 10th.
The other nine finalists are: Chad Carvin (swimming), J.D. Drew (baseball); Tim Duncan (basketball), Les Gutches (wrestling), Chamique Holdsclaw (basketball), Trinity Johnson (softball), Peyton Manning (football), Linda Mastrandrea (disability sports) and Jenny Thompson (swimming).
Established in 1930, the award is named for the founder and first president of the AAU, James E. Sullivan. Selection of the winner is based on balloting from a total of 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. The announcement of the winner will come after tabulation of the ballots, in either latter January or early February.
Based in Indianapolis, USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States. Its mission is to encourage participation and the pursuit of excellence in the sport. For more information about USA Gymnastics and its programs, access USA Gymnastics Online on the Internet at www.usa-gymnastics.org.