ORLANDO, Fla. -(Ammoland.com)- The title of top amateur athlete in America is up for debate this week, as Olympic gold medal shooter and West Virginia Mountaineers collegiate champion Ginny Thrasher (Springfield, Virginia) was announced today as a finalist for the 87th AAU James E. Sullivan Award.
A 19-year-old NCAA national champion, Thrasher represented the U.S. in Rio and earned the country’s first gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in the 10m air rifle. Thrasher defeated her veteran opponent in the finals by a full point, a wide margin in perhaps the Games’ most precise sport.
“Being an AAU James E. Sullivan Award finalist is incredibly meaningful to me because it embodies the love of sport that amateur athletes possess,” Thrasher said. “I am honored to represent my sport at such a high level.”
Olympic rifle legend Lones Wigger was an AAU Sullivan Award Finalist in 1982.
“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.”
Joining Thrasher on the ballot, which opens for a public vote today on their website, is 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/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.
Visit www.aausullivan.org for more information.
Please contact Cody Norman ([email protected]) to apply for media credentials for the event.
About the AAU:
The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is one of the largest- non-profit volunteer sports organizations in the country. As a multi-sport organization, the AAU is dedicated exclusively to the promotion and development of amateur sports programs. Founded in 1888 to establish standards and uniformity in sports, the AAU philosophy of “Sports For All, Forever” is now shared by nearly 700,000 members and 150,000 volunteers across 35 sports programs and 55 U.S. districts.
For more information, visit their website.
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About USA Shooting:
USA Shooting, a 501c3 non-profit corporation, was chartered by the United States Olympic Committee as the National Governing Body for the sport of shooting in April 1995. USA Shooting's mission is to prepare American athletes to win Olympic medals, promote the shooting sports throughout the U.S. and govern the conduct of international shooting in the country.