Past Winners

Caeleb Dressel and Simone Biles, 91st Annual AAU Sullivan Award Winners

Caeleb Dressel and Simone Biles, 91st Annual AAU Sullivan Award Winners

Sport: Swimming & Gymnastics

Hometown: Green Cove Springs, FL & Spring, TX

Biography: Biles became the fourth gymnast to receive the honor of top athlete of the year, while Dressel became the 11th swimmer to take home the title.

The pair are the third duo to win, following the footsteps of the 86th recipients, former Navy quarterback, Keenan Reynolds and former University of Connecticut forward, Breanna Stewart in 2015, and the basketball twins Kelly and Coco Miller in 1999. Other 90th AAU James E. Sullivan Award finalists included Evita Griskenas (rhythmic gymnastics), Grant Holloway (track and field), Markus Howard (men’s basketball), Trevor Lawrence (football), Dana Rettke (women’s volleyball), Kyla Ross (gymnastics), Megan Taylor (women’s lacrosse) and Abbey Weitzeil (women’s swimming).

Biles is a well-known household name and even was recently nicknamed the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) in gymnastics. With a combined 32 Olympic and World Championship medals, Biles is tied as the most decorated gymnast of all time. Biles' seven Olympic medals also ties Shannon Miller for most Olympic medals won by an American female gymnast.

Dressel won five gold medals in six events at 2020 Olympic Games. One of just five swimmers (5) to accomplish it at a single Games (Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz, Matt Biondi, and Kristin Otto). Overall, Dressel is a seven-time Olympic gold medalist and holds world records in the 100 meter butterfly (long course and short course), 50 meter freestyle (short course), and 100 meter individual medley (short course).

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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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