The title of top amateur athlete in America is up for debate this week, as Olympic gold medal shooter and WVU rifle team collegiate champion Ginny Thrasher was announced today as a finalist for the 87th AAU James E. Sullivan Award.
“Being recognized as a finalist for the AAU James E. Sullivan Award is an incredible honor for all our finalists,” said Melissa Willis, AAU Sullivan Award National Chair. “Our seven finalists embody the extraordinary athletic success and high character amateur athlete this award was created to honor.”
Voting opened to the public today at www.aausullivan.org, and will cease on Wednesday, March 22. Joining Thrasher on the ballot are Wisconsin volleyball star Lauren Carlini, USA Gymnastics gold medalists Laurie Hernandez and Aly Raisman, USA Wrestling gold medalist and Ohio State Buckeyes collegiate champion Kyle Snyder, USA Judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison and USA Water Polo gold medalist Ashleigh Johnson.
The AAU Sullivan Award has been presented annually since 1930 to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. Representatives from the AAU created the Sullivan Award with the intent to recognize contributions and achievements from amateur athletes across the country.
World renowned golfer Robert “Bobby” Jones received the inaugural award in 1930 and swimmer Anne Curtis became the first female to accept the award in 1944. Other notable athletes to win the award include famed Olympians Mark Spitz (1971), Carl Lewis (1981), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1986), Michael Phelps (2003) and Shawn Johnson (2008). Former UCLA basketball star Bill Walton (1973), University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning (1997) and Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (2014) have also earned the prestigious honor.
“As the largest multi-sport organization in the nation, the AAU James E. Sullivan Award represents everything we stand for as an organization,” said Dr. Roger J. Goudy, president and CEO of the AAU. “Part of our mission is to provide a venue for amateur athletes to promote good sportsmanship and good citizenship. Each of our seven finalists—and the winners that came before them—truly embodies that mission.”
The winner will be announced at the AAU James E. Sullivan Award Ceremony presented by Eastbay on Tuesday, April 11 at the New York Athletic Club.