Olympian Hughes wins top amateur athlete award

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 19, 2003

NEW YORK - Olympian champion Sarah Hughes won the Sullivan Award on Tuesday night as the nation's top amateur athlete, the second straight year a figure skater took the prestigious honor.

Hughes followed last season's winner, Michelle Kwan, and became the third figure skater to win the award. The other was Dick Button, who presented Hughes with the trophy.

''It's very meaningful to receive this award from Dick Button,'' the 17-year-old Hughes said. ''I remember my older sister, all she ever talked about was Dick Button. I thought if I can meet Dick Button, I'll be the coolest member of my family.''

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Hughes beat wrestler Cael Sanderson and paralympic skier Chris Waddell, who also were at the New York Athletic Club for the presentation.

The other finalists, University of California swimmer Natalie Coughlin and short track speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, were not in attendance.

''I only wish there could be four more awards,'' Hughes said. ''I'm very proud to be representing the sport of figure skating. I still can't believe I just won this.''