ESPY Awards to Honor Best Outdoors Sports Athlete

MONTGOMERY, Ala., June 4, 2002 - When ESPN airs the 2002 ESPY Awards ceremony on July 10, both outdoor sports and one of its outstanding athletes will be recognized along with the rest of the sports world's best.

ESPN's senior vice president for programming, Mark Quenzel, said the top outdoor competitor will join the likes of Cal Ripken, Marion Jones and Tiger Woods as the annual sporting awards show expands its categories to include up-and-coming fields of competition.

"On July 10, the top outdoor sports star will take his rightful place next to the best athletes from the rest of the sports world," Quenzel said. "Outdoor sports competitors train just as hard and boast the same world-class ability as their stick-and-ball sports counterparts. The addition of this category to our ESPY Awards roster illustrates overdue and well-deserved recognition for this significant area of the sports world."

The four finalists come from a field of 22 elite outdoors athletes from sports ranging from archery to retriever trials to fly fishing. A panel of sports writers and outdoor event organizers selected the finalists, one of whom will win the title of Best Outdoors Sports Athlete. The four finalists - three human and one canine - are:

Jerry the Big Air dog, handled by Mike Wallace of Troy, N.Y., captured the gold medal in his first visit to the ESPN Great Outdoor Games. Jerry qualified just one month before the competition and went on to jump more than 23 feet to win the title.

Kevin Van Dam of Kalamazoo, Mich. is a three-time B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year and the defending champion of the CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic, the World Series of professional fishing. Van Dam was also the 2001 FLW Angler of the Year.

Mel Lentz of Dianna, W.Va. is a three-time Stihl Timbersports Champion and has been competing in professional timber competitions since 1977. He holds every possible record in sawing and chopping and won last year's hot saw event at the ESPN Great Outdoor Games.

Rick Clunn of Ava, Mo. can claim two of the most distinguished records in professional bass fishing: 28 consecutive appearances at the CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic, and his position as the only angler to win four Classic victories (1976-77, '84, '90). Clunn was also the 1988 B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year and the 2001 Bassmaster Megabucks Winner.

ESPN will televise the 10th annual ESPY Awards Presented by General Motors and Morgan Stanley on Wednesday, July 10 at 9 p.m. ET. The industry-wide celebration of sports achievement will again recognize top performers and performances and relive memorable moments in sports. Award categories include sport-specific honors, cross-cutter awards (different sports against each other) and the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

Elizabeth O'Donovan at ESPN Outdoors Communication
(334) 551-2330 or
Chris Murray at ESPN Outdoors Communication
(334) 551-2436 or
Josh Krulewitz at ESPN
(860) 766-2000 or