Erin Popovich Named Semi-Finalist for 79th Annual Sullivan Award

March 11, 2009, 12:08 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -  Three-time U.S. Paralympian Erin Popovich (Butte, Mont.) has been named as one of the 12 semi-finalists for the AAU James E. Sullivan Award. The award will be presented on April 15 at the New York Athletic Club.

Popovich had an impressive showing at the 2008 Paralympic Summer Games in Beijing winning four gold and two silver medals while setting two world records. Participating in her third Paralympic Games, Popovich now has a career medal total of 14 gold and five silver. 

"It is a huge honor to be nominated for the "Oscar" of the sports world especially among the other athletes," said Popovich. "To be recognized amongst the best of the best is really exciting."

In January, Popovich was honored as the U.S. Olympic Committee's 2008 Paralympian of the Year.

"Erin Popovich is a world-class swimmer," said Charlie Huebner, Chief of Paralympics, USOC. "More importantly, she is a world-class role model for all Americans, especially kids with physical disabilities."

Labeled the "Oscar" of sports awards, the Sullivan Award is presented annually to honor the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. Those nominated excel not only on the athletic level, but have a proven strong moral character. The AAU Sullivan Award is presented based on the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship, athletic accomplishments and the ideals of amateurism. 

While Popovich is the only Paralympian to make the nomination list, six Olympic athletes were also named as semi-finalists including gymnasts Jonathon Horton (Houston, Texas), Shawn Johnson (West Des Moines, Iowa), Nastia Liukin (Parker, Texas) and swimmers Dara Torres (Parkland, Fla.) and the Men's 4x100 Freestyle Relay Team of  Michael Phelps (Baltimore, Md.), Garrett Weber-Gale (Milwaukee, Wis.), Cullen Jones (Irvington, N.J.) and Jason Lezak (Irvine, Calif.).   

The award is presented by the Amateur Athletic Union. Fans can vote for their choice online at starting today.  VOTE NOW!

For more information, please contact Jennifer Evanitsky, U.S. Paralympics at (719)866-2053 or