NEW YORK (AP) – Michelle Kwan had a different reason to cry this time.
Kwan, the most accomplished figure skater of her generation, won the 2001 Sullivan Award as the nation’s top amateur athlete last night.
“I’m already a little teary-eyed,” Kwan said. “I always wanted to be a legend. … It feels like a dream come true.”
Kwan said she was humbled to have won the same award as Dick Button, who took the Sullivan in 1949 – the only other figure skater to win the award.
Despite her four world championships and six U.S. titles, Kwan might be best known for finishing second behind Tara Lipinski in the 1998 Winter Olympics and third behind Sarah Hughes in the 2002 Games.
Michigan middle distance runner Alan Webb was also a finalist for the award.
“I don’t plan on getting to legend status for a while,” Webb said. “I’m at the beginning of my career.”
Webb first made a splash on the national scene this past summer, when he surpassed the American high school record in the mile (3:53.43), breaking Jim Ryan’s 36-year-old mark of 3:55.3.
As a Wolverine this fall, Webb was named an All-American after he led Michigan’s cross country team to an 11th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
Michigan’s freshmen sensation has not participated in a collegiate track meet because of tendonitis in his Achilles, but he is expected to make his debut in the next two weeks.
Besides Webb, Kwan beat three other finalists for the Sullivan: Swimmer and Olympic hopeful Natalie Coughlin of California; Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Mark Prior; and gymnast Sean Townsend. All five finalists attended the ceremony, which was held at the New York Athletic Club.
Coughlin narrowly missed going to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and hopes to represent the United States in Athens. Prior was the Cubs’ second pick in last June’s amateur draft. Townsend won the first individual gold at the world championships for an American man since 1979, when Bart Conner won the parallel bars and Kurt Thomas won the floor exercise and high bar.
But Kwan has all of those prestigious titles to her name, as well as millions of dollars in endorsements.
The only gap in her skating resume is that elusive Olympic gold medal.
She has not decided yet whether she will try for gold in 2006 in Turin, Italy. But it’s a question she can’t avoid.
“I got that four years ago, and I’m getting it now,” Kwan said. “A lot of people think I’m older than I am.”
She would be 25 then – old by women’s figure skating standards – and at her fourth Olympics.
In 1994, she was an alternate to the U.S. team as skating officials pondered barring Tonya Harding from going to Lillehammer. Kwan went to Norway and trained for an Olympic appearance that never came when Harding was allowed to compete.
“Who cares? Give it one more shot. I’m not over the hill. If you have the desire, go for it,” Kwan said. “I don’t think it’s necessary for me to make a decision right now.”

Paul Wong
DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily
Michigan track star Alan Webb set a new record for the high school mile and was named an All-American in cross country.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *