Joan Benoit-Samuelson, who set a world best of 2 hours 21 minutes 21 seconds in the America's Marathon in Chicago last year, was named the winner of the Sullivan Award Monday night as the U.S. Amateur Athletic Union's top athlete for 1985.
Benoit-Samuelson, 28, of Freeport, Me., became only the seventh female winner in the award's 56-year history.
Last year's Sullivan Award winner, diver Greg Louganis, presented the award to Benoit-Samuelson at a dinner at the Indianapolis Convention Center.
Benoit-Samuelson won the women's marathon at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 and last year, besides her performance at Chicago, she also won a 12-kilometer race at San Francisco last May and a 7-miler at Davenport, Iowa, in July. In August she returned to her native New England to win the 7.1-mile Falmouth Road Race.
Benoit-Samuelson and sprinter Valerie Brisco-Hooks, who set four world indoor marks last year, were finalists for the second consecutive year.
Other finalists included world-record triple jumper Willie Banks, USC women's basketball player Cheryl Miller, volleyball player Charles (Karch) Kiraly, swimmer Matt Biondi, golfer Scott Verplank, wrestler Mike Houck, synchronized swimmer Sarah Josephson, and diver Michele Mitchell.