USA Water Polo Goalie Ashleigh Johnson Named Sullivan Award Finalist

Team USA water polo goalie Ashleigh Johnson has been named as one of 7 finalists for the AAU’s prestigious Sullivan Award, which has been given annually to the best amateur American athlete every year since 1935.

Johnson led Team USA to an Olympic gold medal in Rio last summer and was named the top goalkeeper of the tournament.

“I’m grateful to be selected as a finalist for the Sullivan Award, it is an honor to come this far in the process and I’m truly thankful to all those that have supported me,” Johnson said. “This is the latest step in a wonderful journey for me and all of my teammates who achieved our Olympic dream in Rio. Any accolades I receive are a reflection of our team and I look forward to the coming weeks and the opportunity to further celebrate our accomplishments and the sport of water polo.”

No water polo player, male or female, has ever won the award, though swimmers have won 12 times and divers 3 times – most recently Missy Franklin in 2012. The most accomplished American swimmer of 2016, Katie Ledecky, who won 4 golds and 1 silver medal at the Olympics and broke 3 World Records, was not even named a semi-finalist for the award.

Purdue diver Steele Johnson was named a semi-finalist for the award, but wasn’t selected as a finalist.

Voting is open to fans now, who can vote from multiple devices daily from now through March 22nd.

2016 Finalists

  • Ashleigh Johnson, Water Polo – led Team USA to a gold medal at the Olympics in Rio and was named Top Goalkeeper of the tournament
  • Lauren Carlini, Volleyball – 4-time All-American at Wisconsin, ranked 3rd nationally in 2016 in assists-per-set
  • Ginny Thrasher, Rifle – The 2016 NCAA champion at West Virginia earned the United States’ first gold medal at the 2016 Olympics winning the 10m air rifle
  • Kyle Snyder, Freestyle Wrestling – The Ohio State undergrad became the United States’ youngest Olympic wrestling gold medalist in Rio, and also won the NCAA title in the 285 lb. weight class, upending the two-time defending champion Nick Gwiazdowski.
  • Kayla Harrison, Judo – won her 2nd Olympic gold medal in 2016 and finished #1 in the world in the -78kg weight class.
  • Laurie Hernandez, Gymnastics – A member of the Final Five, She was second at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the all-around. She won silver in the balance beam in Rio and gold as part of the team competition.
  • Aly Raisman, Gymnastics – Captain of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gymnastics teams, Raisman won a gold and 2 silvers in Rio. That made her the most decorated U.S. gymnast in history.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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