Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – In ceremonies tonight at its national headquarters, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) announced that Missy Franklin, US Olympic swimmer, has been named the 2012 James E. Sullivan Award winner, which honors the nation's outstanding amateur athletes. Presented annually since 1930, the Sullivan award is based on character, leadership and sportsmanship. Notable recipients of the AAU Sullivan Award include: Mark Spitz, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Florence Joyner, Peyton Manning, Michael Phelps, J.J. Redick, Tim Tebow, and Shawn Johnson.
“This award [AAU Sullivan Award] means a lot to me because of how much I’ve given up to be amateur,” said Franklin as she opened up her acceptance speech in front of family and AAU distinguished guests. “I absolutely love being an amateur athlete and to be a part of something so special that honors that is amazing.”
Franklin was selected for her athleticism and sportsmanship as an Olympic swimmer, as well as for her achievements out of the pool. In 2012, Franklin left London as the most decorated female of the Olympic Games from any country or in any sport, earning a total of five medals, four gold and one bronze. She won two individual Olympic gold medals, breaking the Olympic and American record in the 100m back and the world and Olympic record in the 200m back. In addition to her Olympic performance, Franklin also was named the 2011-2012 USA Swimming Grand Prix Champion. In individual events in 2012, she broke a total of four American records, one world record, and 13 National Age Group records.
Notably, Franklin is the eleventh swimmer to win the AAU Sullivan Award in its 83-year history, first since Michael Phelps took home the award in 2003. Ann Curtis was the first swimmer to win the award back in 1944.
In addition to athletic achievements, Franklin excels in the community and in the classroom. She has worked with the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Stand Up 2 Cancer, Denver Children’s Hospital and several others—all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Franklin is currently a senior at Regis Jesuit High School and is a Scholastic All-American in swimming. She received the “Perfect Score” award, the only one in the country this year. Franklin will attend and swim for the University of California Berkley in the fall.
“I am extremely proud of Missy Franklin and congratulate her for her selection as the 2012 AAU James E. Sullivan Award winner,” said Henry Forrest, President of the AAU. “Missy is one of the best and the brightest among the hundreds of thousands of amateur athletes who are pursuing their dreams. Not just in the pool, she demonstrates character and leadership in the classroom and in her community. On behalf of the AAU, we welcome Missy as the 83rd member of this elite group of amateur athletes – Sullivan award winners – who have earned the highest honor the AAU bestows.”
Three finalists were selected from personal nominations following a review by the AAU Sullivan Award Executive Committee. Franklin was chosen through a public voting, accounting for one-third of the votes, as well as voting by the United States National Governing Bodies and Division I Athletic Directors and Sports Information Directors.
Finalists for the 2012 James E. Sullivan Award from the AAU:
Darren Barnes is a competitive lifter for USA Weightlifting who set six national records at the 2012 World Junior Championships. Most recently, he set two records at the American Open, qualifying him for the 2013 World Junior Championships. While competing competitively, Darren still managed to graduate from high school with a 4.0 GPA. If selected, Barnes would become the first weightlifter to win the AAU Sullivan Award.
Oregon Volleyball, Basketball, Softball, Track and Field
A four-sport athlete at the University of Oregon, Liz Brenner became Oregon’s first underclassmen volleyball All-American and helped the Ducks to a NCAA runner up finish this past season. She’s also taking her talents to the hardwood and the track to finish up her sophomore year. As a freshman, Liz was an All-Pac-12 Freshman Team volleyball choice and also played basketball and softball. If selected, Brenner would become the first volleyball player to win the AAU Sullivan Award.
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