NEW YORK, Jan. 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The International Athletic Association (IAA), one of the leading athletic organizations providing recognition and support to professional and amateur athletes, today announced the return of the Jesse Owens International Athlete Trophy.
The award, presented annually to one world-class athlete based on their values of integrity, uncompromised sportsmanship, and excellence in athletic competition was created in 1981 in honor of the celebrated track and field star Jesse Owens. Owens famously made history as an athlete and activist, in 1936 winning four gold medals at the Berlin Olympic Games. The trophy was last presented in 2003 and the IAA is proud to bring it back to its rightful place among sports' most prestigious awards.
"The impact that Jesse Owens has had on the world, using sports as his springboard, is immeasurable," said Herbert P. Douglas, Jr., Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the International Athletics Association Board of Directors and US Olympic medalist at the 1948 London Summer Games. "Through this award we're honoring Jesse's legacy and championing a new class of athletes to follow in his footsteps."
Finalists for the 2014 Jesse Owens International Trophy include:
Marit Bjoergen (Norway, Cross-Country Skiing)
Thirty-three and still one of the world's elite skiers, Bjoergen has won seven Olympic medals and was the most decorated athlete at the Vancouver Games.
Usain Bolt (Jamaica, Athletics)
The fastest man in track and field history, Bolt has won six Olympic gold medals, eight World Championship gold medals and holds records for the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4x100 relay.
Mohamed Farah (Great Britain, Athletics)
Considered one of Athletics' greatest distance runners, Farah was the winner of the 5,000 and 10,000-meter races at the 2012 Olympic Games and 2013 World Championships.
LeBron James (USA, Basketball)
The most dominant player in recent basketball history, James has won four NBA MVP titles, two NBA Finals MVP awards, back-to-back NBA titles and two Olympic gold medals.
Lionel "Leo" Messi (Spain, Soccer)
Often referred to as the best soccer player in the world, Messi is currently FC Barcelona's all-time leading scorer, has registered the most "hat-tricks" in Champions League history and is the only player to score five goals in a game in the Champions League ever.
Apolo Ohno (USA, Short Track Speed Skating)
Over the course of three Olympic Games, Ohno has won eight medals, the most of any US winter Olympian. He has also won twenty-one World Championship medals in his career.
Michael Phelps (USA, Swimming)
The most decorated Olympian of all time, Phelps has won twenty-two Olympic medals, eighteen of them gold. He has also taken home seventy-one medals in international competition and is a multiple world record-breaker.
Serena Williams (USA, Tennis)
Considered the greatest women's player in tennis history, Williams has won thirty-two Grand slams in her career, including seventeen singles, thirteen women's doubles and two mixed doubles titles. She is also the fifth woman ever to win all four Grand Slam titles.
Tiger Woods (USA, Golf)
Arguably the most successful golfer in history, Woods has been ranked number one in the world for stints of 264 weeks and then 281 weeks; both record totals. He has been named PGA Player of the Year a record ten times and has won more major tournaments than any active player.
Liu Xiang (China, Athletics)
A former world record-holder in the 110-meter high hurdles, Xiang is considered China's most successful athletes. He has won gold medals in both the 2004 Olympic Games and 2007 World Championships.
These ten athletes were selected by the IAA Board of Directors and will be evaluated by a group of electors consisting of sports writers and experts representing every continent. One athlete will be selected as this year's winner, joining the ranks of past recipients including, American track and field legends, Michael Johnson and Carl Lewis, Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe and others.
The IAA will recognize the 2014 recipient of the International Athlete Trophy during a special black tie gala and award dinner on March 10th at the iconic Waldorf Astoria New York.
For more information on Jesse Owens International Athlete Trophy and to purchase tickets to 2014 Jesse Owens International Athlete Gala please email INTL2A@resevt.com, call 212-627-1667 or contact Eric Heiden (email@example.com).
About the International Athletic Association
The International Athletic Association (IAA) is a non-profit organization established to promote and to encourage universal values of fairness, integrity, uncompromising sportsmanship and excellence in athletic competitions. Committed to keeping alive, the spirit, heart, and qualities of world renowned US Olympian, Jesse Owens, the IAA hosts the Jesse Owens International Trophy Award Presentation Dinner and Gala to support youth and aspiring Olympic athletes.
The International Athletic Association (IAA) was founded by US Olympian Herbert Douglas Jr., to honor his friend and mentor, Jesse Owens.
About the Jesse Owens Foundation
The Jesse Owens Foundation is a non-profit organization whose goal is to promote the development of youth to their fullest potential. Established in 1980 by friends and family after the untimely death of Jesse Owens, the foundation perpetuates the ideals and life's work of this Olympic champion and humanitarian. The Jesse Owens Foundation seeks to perpetuate the spirit and beliefs of Jesse Owens through its support of The Ruth and Jesse Owens Scholars Program at The Ohio State University. This program provides services to graduating high school seniors with untapped potential to develop their talents, broaden their horizons, and to help them become better citizens. Currently, The Foundation serves as a resource for information and referral on the life and legacy of Jesse Owens and provides its services on a competitive basis without regard for race, creed, color, national origin, or sex.
SOURCE International Athletic Association