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 champion and founder of Catch the Stars Foundation
2014    Kristi Yamaguchi, Olympic gold medalist and founder of the Always Dream Foundation
2015    Amy Purdy, 2014 Paralympic bronze medalist and founder of Adaptive Action Sports
2016    Glen Bennett, program coordinator for Michigan State University Demmer Shooting Sports, Education and Training Center
2017    Fred Zimny, U.S. junior national team coach at USA Luge 
2018    Tracy Evans, three-time Olympian in freestyle skiing and founder of Kids Play International
2019    Connie Paraskevin, Connie Cycling Foundation
2020    Dr. Tekemia Dorsey, International Association of Black Triathletes
2022    Rowdy Gaines, three-time Olympic gold medalist and water safety advocate
2022    Melissa Stockwell, Paralympic bronze medalist and co-founder of Dare2tri

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
2014    University of Central Oklahoma’s Endeavor Games
2015    Figure Skating In Harlem
2016    BlazeSports America
2017    BlazeSports America
2018    Game On! Sports 4 Girls
2019    The Hartford's Ability Equipped in partnership with Disabled Sports USA
2020    George Pocock Rowing Foundation’s Erg Ed
2022    Ready, Set, Gold!