Chris Canning Award of Excellence finalists named

March 05, 2013, 1:03 p.m. (ET)

USA Taekwondo announced today that Zachery Budde, Logan Gerick, Cheyenne Lewis and Steven Thompson were chosen as finalists for the Ninth Annual Chris Canning Award of Excellence from an outstanding pool of nominations. The winner will be announced and presented the award during a ceremony at the USAT National Championships on Saturday, July 6, 2013, in Chicago, Ill. 

The Chris Canning Award of Excellence is presented to the one martial artist who most exhibits what Chris represented and achieved. He or she has excelled academically, gained national and international acclaim as a martial arts competitor, given back to the community they live in and demonstrated the same personal attributes as the awards namesake. Previous winners of the Award of Excellence include: Adrienne Ivey (2012), Haley Kong (2011), Olie Burton (2010), Matt Dunlap (2009), Paige McPherson (2008), Jermaine James (2007), Maia Eubanks (2006) and Aimee Callison (2005).

The Chris Canning Award of Excellence, given by the USAT and the Chris Canning Foundation, is the most prestigious award given in his name. At the 2008 Senior National Championships, a special recognition by the United States Olympic Committee was given to his family for Chris living his life as a representative of the Olympic Ideals and for his personal, academic, artistic and athletic excellence. Last year, Paige McPherson, Terrence Jennings and Juan Moreno of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team presented the award in his honor to Adrienne Ivey. This year's award will be presented by Mr. Bruce Harris, interim CEO, and Miss Christina Bayley.

The Chris Canning Award of Excellence was adopted in honor and tribute to Christopher James Canning, an accomplished martial artist and world class human being. Chris was an honor student, a star athlete for his school in football, basketball and baseball, a classical pianist, worked at an animal shelter and helped the homeless and needy. In just four years as a martial artist, he earned his first degree black belt in Taekwondo, was a member of 11 state teams, won more than 30 medals at the national and state level including 15 state and three national titles, was an AAU All American, member of the U.S. Elite team training at the Olympic Training Center, invited to the U.S. Gold Team training and was a five-time Athlete of the Week and Illinois' USNTF Athlete and Student of the Year.

He has been awarded the Legacy of Service honor at the Youth Assembly at the United Nations, honored by the President of the United States, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin made a speech in tribute to what he accomplished and represented on the Senate floor in Washington, and the Points of Light Foundation honored him with the President's Award for his community service. In addition, he has been inducted into the U. S. and World Martial Arts Halls of Fame and 12 other International Halls of Fame, has eight regional, national and  international awards given out in his name with recipients coming from the US, Canada, Germany, China, and England. He also received 18 special recognition awards from martial arts legends and organizations worldwide.