The Rings of Gold Awards, which are presented annually, recognize both an individual and a program dedicated to helping children develop their Olympic or Paralympic dreams and reach their highest athletic and personal potential.

Inaugurated in 1996, the Rings of Gold Awards highlight individuals and programs making a difference in the lives of children by bringing the Olympic Movement and its ideals to the playing field. The individual honor recognizes someone who has dedicated his/her life to helping young people achieve their highest athletic potential, while also assisting them in setting goals and establishing the mechanisms needed to achieve personal success on and off the field of play. The program award honors those programs committed to nurturing and developing the Olympic and Paralympic dreams and goals of children, teaching America’s youth valuable life skills, in addition to making a positive impact in their community.

Individual Criteria 

  • Honors an unsung hero involved with children and sport
  • Exhibits commitment to the Olympic Movement
  • Demonstrates values of Olympism
  • Does not need to be awarded in same year of contributions

Program Criteria

  • Recognizes a program grassroots in nature that introduces children to Olympic/Paralympic sport
  • Demonstrates commitment to the Olympic Movement through sports programming
  • Reaches a diverse population
  • Incorporates the Olympic Ideals into program
  • Does not need to be awarded in same year of program

Individual Recipients

1997    Al Mitchell, U.S. Olympic Education Center Boxing Coach
1998    Georgianna Buford, Mother of Tonya Buford-Bailey
1999    Walt Culbertson, John Muir H.S. Swimming/Water Polo Coach
2000    Richard Davis, Head Rowing Coach at St. Paul’s School
2001    Richard Quick, U.S. Olympic Women’s Swimming Coach
2002    Dorothy Baker, Delaware State Olympic Chairwoman
2002    Jean Lopez, Taekwondo Coach and Brother of Olympic Gold Medalist Steven Lopez
2003    Clair Young, Founding Member of Wolverine Sports Club
2010    Melissa Gregory, Olympic Figure Skater and Founder of Fever on Ice
2011    Wendy Hilliard, Founder of Wendy Hilliard Foundation
2012    George Block, former vice president and national team coach at USA Swimming
2013    Tamika Catchings, three-time Olympic gold medalist (basketball) and founder of Catch the Stars foundation          

Program Recipients

1997    “Dreams for Youth,” San Antonio Sports Foundation
1998    National Congress of State Games
1999    National Youth Sports Program
2000    Native American Sports Council
2001    Boys & Girls Clubs of America
2002    YMCA of the USA
2003    National Association of Police Athletic Leagues
2010    Make a Splash, USA Swimming Foundation
2011    Peter Westbrook Foundation
2012    Community Rowing, Inc.
2013    Lakeshore Foundation