COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – U.S. Olympic Team ring licensee O.C. Tanner is giving U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes the opportunity to show their appreciation to those who inspired them most.  Athletes have been invited to submit their stories of appreciation, from which four will receive the Inspiration Award – a 14k gold commemorative ring – which they in turn can present to their mentor.


"Behind every Olympian there is someone who ignited the spark," said Lisa Baird, Chief Marketing Officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC). "As we prepare to celebrate the victories of our athletes in Vancouver, the Inspiration Award recognizes the people who contributed to their success, whether it’s a parent, a teammate, a teacher or a friend."


The athletes’ stories are appearing on a Facebook page titled Appreciation.  The public is encouraged to read the stories, vote for their favorite and share with their own Facebook friends. A handful of U.S. athletes have already nominated their inspirations. From the submission of speedskater Katherine Reutter:


"He was a caretaker. Cheerleader. And coach. Driving me toward Olympic success—literally. To the gym, to practice sessions, and three-hour drives to St. Louis for speedskating events and training on the weekends. And though it was difficult for my father to send his 16-year old daughter away from home to live in college dorms and train with other Olympic hopefuls—it was vital for my Olympic progression."


O.C. Tanner has been the licensee of the U.S. Olympic Team rings since 2000.  Nodding to the influence of mentors for Olympic athletes in ancient Greece, the Inspiration Award features a laurel crown and the words "inspire, Olympic and mentor" in Greek. The memento will honor individuals who encouraged an athlete’s dream. It will serve to spread appreciation and acknowledgement to those who will likely never receive Olympic medals of their own, but who made it possible for someone else.


While all U.S. athletes are invited to submit nominations, only three U.S. Olympians and one U.S. Paralympian will be awarded the ring. They will be selected by the USOC and O.C. Tanner, as well as public voting via the Facebook voting page. O.C. Tanner’s appreciation fan page allows visitors to read each athlete nomination and vote for the story they think is most inspiring.  Visitors can also comment and share stories with their Facebook friends. 


"From a company who believes that appreciating employees is key to organizational success, creating a ring to commemorate those who have inspired Olympic greatness is appreciation of the highest order," said David Petersen, CEO of O.C. Tanner. "The Inspiration Award honors those who frequently lived behind the scenes but who supported, encouraged and believed in an athlete so that they could believe in themselves."


To learn more about the Inspiration Award and vote for your favorite athlete, visit


About O.C. Tanner

O.C. Tanner is an international awards and recognition business based in Salt Lake City, Utah. The company helps more than 8,000 clients worldwide develop solutions designed to recognize and appreciate their employees. O.C. Tanner also operates two retail jewelry stores in Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah.


About the USOC

The USOC is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the sole entity in the United States whose mission involves training, entering and underwriting the full expenses for the U.S. teams in the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games. In addition to being the steward of the U.S. Olympic Movement, the USOC is the moving force for support of sports in the United States that are on the program of the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games. For more information, please contact the USOC Communications Division at               (719) 866-4529         (719) 866-4529 or visit Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.