Palmiero-Winters, Bizzarri named Sullivan Award finalists


Vicky Oddi
Communications Coordinator
USA Track & Field

NEW YORK - Two runners are among six finalists for the AAU Sullivan Award. An inspiring athlete, Team USA member, mother and ultramarathoner, Amy Palmiero-Winters of Hicksville, N.Y., on Monday was named a finalist, as well as multi-time NCAA champion and Honda Award winner Angela Bizzarri of the University of Illinois.

Other finalists for the prestigious honor include University of South Florida soccer player Zach Boggs, luger Erin Hamlin, Penn State volleyball player Megan Hodge and West Point baseball player Clint Moore.

The winner of the AAU Sullivan Award will be announced April 14 at the New York Athletic Club. The Award annually honors the outstanding amateur athlete in the USA. Presented since 1930, the Sullivan also is based on leadership, character, sportsmanship and the ideals of amateurism. Track and field athletes have won the Sullivan Award more than athletes from any other sport. Past winners include National Track & Field Hall of Famers Carl Lewis, Bruce Jenner, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Mary Decker, Michael Johnson, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Rafer Johnson, Frank Shorter and Edwin Moses.

The first amputee ever named to a USA national team, Palmiero-Winters' year was culminated and highlighted by the "Race to the Future" on New Year's Eve, in which she beat all able-bodied male and female finishers. Covering 130.04 miles in the 24-hour race, her performance qualified her for the Team USA roster at the 2010 International Association of Ultrarunners' 24-hour Run World Championship, to be held in Brive, France on May 13-14, 2010.

Competing in no fewer than 10 ultra-distance races in 2009, Winters also won the women's division at the Heartland 100 Mile in October, earning USATF Athlete of the Week honors. She became the first amputee to qualify for Western States 100 mile ultra marathon and was the first amputee to run the Mount Washington Race.

Palmiero-Winters is a single mother of two who works as a youth fitness director, coach and motivational speaker. She is particularly devoted to working with children who are recovering from amputations. After a 1997 motorcycle accident and 27 surgeries, Palmiero-Winters had her left leg amputated below the knee. She has subsequently become a single-leg below-the-knee amputee world record holder in over a dozen events, including the marathon and Ironman distance triathlon.

Named the National Cross Country Athlete of the Year by the USTFCCCA, Bizzarri was a surprise winner at the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana. The University of Illinois standout won the national crown in 19 minutes, 46 seconds and took the Honda Award for cross country as well as the Dick Eddelman Award as the University of Illinois' Female Athlete of the Year. Earlier in the year, Bizzarri won the 5,000m at the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, besting the field by almost 10 seconds with her winning time of 16:17.94. She went on to finish third at the USA Outdoor Championships in 15:33.02.