Past Winners

Shawn Johnson, 79th Annual AAU Sullivan Award Winner

Shawn Johnson, 79th Annual AAU Sullivan Award Winner

Sport: Gymnastics

Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa

Biography: Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson added the AAU Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete to her balance beam title at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Johnson beat out teammate Nastia Liukin, the all-around champion at the 2008 Games, and several others for the 79th annual award. She was the third gymnast to win the AAU Sullivan, joining Kurt Thomas (1979) and Paul Hamm (2004). Hamm won the all-around at the Athens Olympics that year.

Johnson won four medals at the 2008 Olympics: the gold on balance beam, silver in the team, in all-around, and in floor exercise. She is only the second U.S. gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal on balance beam, joining Shannon Miller (1996).

Among her other achievement were winning the all-around at the Olympic Trials, and taking the U.S. all-around and floor exercise titles for the second straight year at the Visa Championships.


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The Award

Known as the "Oscar" of sports awards and older than The Heisman, the AAU Sullivan Award honors the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. It has been presented annually by the AAU since 1930 as a salute to founder and past president of the Amateur Athletic Union, and pioneer in amateur sports, James E. Sullivan. Based on the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship, and the ideals of amateurism, the AAU Sullivan Award goes far beyond athletic accomplishments and honors those who have shown strong moral character.


The AAU was founded in 1888 to establish standards and uniformity in amateur sports. During its early years, the AAU served as a leader in international sport representing the U.S. in the international sports federations. The AAU worked closely with the Olympic movement to prepare athletes for the Olympic games. After the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, the AAU has focused its efforts into providing sports programs for all participants of all ages beginning at the grass roots level. The philosophy of "Sports for All, Forever," is shared by over 700,000 participants and over 150,000 volunteers.
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