Olympic gold medalists Katie Ledecky and David Boudia are among 19 nominees for the 2013 AAU Sullivan Award, a prestigious honor given each year to the nation’s most outstanding amateur athlete, and fans are being called on to help them get to the final three.
Fan voting for the award will account for one-third of an athlete’s overall score and will last through March 23. Three finalists will then be named by March 28 before the winner is announced April 11 in Orlando.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” said Ledecky, who broke world records in the 800- and 1,500-meter freestyle events while winning four gold medals at the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain. “There are a number of great amateur athletes up for the award, and it’s an honor to be nominated along with them.”
Among the other nominees is Boudia, the 2012 Olympic diving champion who earned a silver medal in platform diving at the 2013 FINA World Championships. Ten other nominees come from Olympic sports: Liz Brenner (volleyball, basketball, track & field), Rachel Fattal (water polo), Bria Hartley (basketball), Alex Johnson (volleyball), Cory McGee (track & field), John Michael Nagel (taekwondo), Kelsey Robinson (volleyball), Jude Schimmel (basketball), Shoni Schimmel (basketball) and Alli Williams (basketball).
Joy Woog-Garvey (inline hockey) and Robert Herbst (powerlifting) come from sports in National Governing Bodies that fall under the United States Olympic Committee’s umbrella.
The other nominees for the award are Ashley Bishop (baton twirling), Blake Bortles (football), Tre Mason (football), A.J. McCarron (football) and John Urschel (football).
"It’s an honor to be nominated for the Sullivan Award along with so many other amazing athletes,” Boudia said in an email from Beijing, where he was competing in the FINA Diving World Series. “To be a candidate for such a prestigious award that has so much tradition and history involved with it means a lot, especially for 2013.”
Olympic or Paralympic athletes have won the Sullivan Award in nine of the past 13 years, including Olympic champion swimmer Missy Franklin last year.
In 2012, Ledecky became the U.S. record holder in the 800 when she won the gold medal with a time of 8:14.63 at the London 2012 Olympic Games, besting the previous U.S. record of 8:16.22 set by Janet Evans in 1989. Meanwhile, Boudia won the 2012 Olympic gold medal in platform diving and teamed with Nick McCrory to earn the bronze medal in 10-meter synchronized diving. The platform win made Boudia the first U.S. Olympic men’s diving gold medalist in 20 years. However, the Sullivan Award only factors in 2013 accomplishments, so Ledecky’s and Boudia’s success in London won’t factor into the award calculations.
Both Olympians continued to thrive in 2013, though. In addition to her gold medals and world records at last year’s world championships, Ledecky also broke four American records, won five national titles and was recognized by FINA as the 2013 World Swimmer of the Year.
Even though she didn’t break a world record in the 400, she said that was her personal best moment from the world championships because she spent extra time preparing for the race and was surprised by her time.
“I was happy with all four of my swims at world championships, and it was great to be a part of a relay, so I had a fun year,” said Ledecky, who also was named the USOC’s Olympic Sportswoman of the Year in 2013.
Besides celebrating her nomination, Ledecky also spent last weekend celebrating her birthday with her family, as she turned 17 Monday. She said her father, David Ledecky, is a big fan of Southside Johnny, so her family celebrated by going to see his concert and having a nice dinner.
“I really appreciate the support, and it’s been nice to have the cheers of all of them for the U.S. swim team,” Ledecky said. “I loved the support I got when I was in London and in Barcelona last year.”
For Boudia, the nomination came after a whirlwind year. In his first full year of marriage — he and wife Sonnie married in October 2012 — Boudia served as a judge on diving reality show “Splash” and maintained his competitive diving career.
“Last year was the hardest year of my career, by far,” Boudia said. “It was extremely difficult for me to try to balance everything in my diving life, my personal life and my professional life after becoming Olympic champion. There were times last year that it was difficult for me to even get to the pool to train. I was fortunate to compete as well as I did at the world championships considering how challenging last year was for me. It was pretty rewarding.”