NEW YORK – Fans around the country can help a track and
field athlete be named the nation’s top “amateur” athlete as world
champion Sanya Richards, inspirational ultramarathoner Amy
Palmiero-Winters and NCAA cross-country champion Angela Bizzarri were
among the 14 athletes announced as semifinalists for the AAU Sullivan
Fans can vote online for the Sullivan Award semifinalists
online at USA Today through March 30. Finalists will be announced on or
before April 2, with the winner being named on April 14.
Richards the world’s best
The world’s dominant 400-meter runner in 2009 and the World
Athlete of the Year in Athletics, Richards also was the winner of
USATF’s Jesse Owens Award as the nation’s top female track and field
athlete of the year.
Richards in 2009 won her first individual world title in the
women’s 400m and ran the anchor leg on Team USA’s gold medal winning
4x400m relay team (3:17.83, World leader). She finished the season with
the four fastest women’s 400m times in the world in 2009, and her
world-leading time of 48.83 seconds from her win in Brussels, Belgium,
earned her a share of the IAAF Golden League Jackpot for the third time
in her career. Richards’ performance in Brussels equaled the second-best
time ever by an American first posted by National Track & Field
Hall of Famer Valerie Brisco-Hooks in winning the gold medal at the 1984
Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Also in 2009, Richards won her fifth career national title
in the 400m, and she won at many of the world’s premiere track and field
meets, including the Nike Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore. (49.86),
ISTAF Berlin (49.57), Oslo (49.23), Rome (49.46), Paris (49.34), Zurich
(48.94), Brussels (48.83) and World Athletics Final (49.95).
Palmiero-Winters inspires, makes
The first amputee ever named to a USA national team,
Palmiero-Winters’ year was culminated and highlighted by the “Race to
the Future” on New Year’s Eve, in which she beat all able-bodied male
and female finishers. Covering 130.04 miles in the 24-hour race, her
performance qualified her for the Team USA roster at the 2010
International Association of Ultrarunners’ 24-hour Run World
Championship, to be held in Brive, France on May 13-14, 2010.
Competing in no fewer than 10 ultra-distance races on the
year, Winters also won the women’s division at the Heartland 100 Mile in
October, earning USATF Athlete of the Week honors. She became the first
amputee to qualify for Western States 100 mile ultra marathon and
was the first amputee to run the Mount Washington Race.
Palmiero-Winters is a single mother of two who works as a
youth fitness director, coach and motivational speaker. After a 1997
motorcycle accident and 27 surgeries, she had her left leg amputated
below the knee. She has subsequently become a single-leg below-the-knee
amputee world record holder in over a dozen events (including the
marathon and Ironman distance triathlon).
Bizzarri takes NCAA honors
Named the National Cross Country Athlete of the Year by the
USTFCCCA, Bizzarri won her first NCAA title in 2009 when she was a
surprise winner at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute,
Indiana. The University of Illinois standout won the national crown in
19 minutes, 46 seconds and took the Honda Award for cross country as
well as the Dick Eddelman Award as the University of Illinois’
Female Athlete of the Year. Earlier in the year, Bizzarri won the 5,000m
at the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, besting the
field by almost 10 seconds with her winning time of 16:17.94. She went
on to finish third at the USA Outdoor Championships in 15:33.02.
About the Sullivan Award
The AAU Sullivan Award honors the outstanding amateur
athlete in the USA. Presented annually since 1930, the Sullivan also is
based on leadership, character, sportsmanship and the ideals of
amateurism. Track and field athletes have won the
Sullivan Award more than athletes from any other sport. Past winners
include National Track & Field Hall of Famers Carl Lewis, Bruce
Jenner, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Mary Decker,
Michael Johnson, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Rafer Johnson, Frank Shorter
and Edwin Moses.
To read more about all nominees for the Sullivan Award,
. To vote, visit USA Today at http://www.usatoday.com/sports/2009-sullivan-award.htm#uslPageReturn