September 28, 1998
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Swimmer Sabir Muhammad has been awarded the first grant by the William E. Simon Endowment for the Support of Athletes. The $7,500 grant for the 1998 calendar year was awarded by the William E. Simon Endowment Fund's Board of Trustees.
The grant will allow Muhammad, a recent addition to the USA Swimming Resident team, to train at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra from Oct. 22 to Dec. 10, with world champions Michael Klim and Alexander Popov, under the tutelage of Gennadi Touretski, a former USSR national team member (1964-73) and Olympic coach (1988, 1992).
"It's a great chance for me to learn from the best, widen my horizons and extend my resources," Muhammad said. "Michael Klim and Alexander Popov are people I have a lot of respect for. I'm looking forward to the opportunity and I'm grateful to Mr. Simon for establishing a fund that will help athletes reach their full potential."
The endowment was established this past summer by former USOC President Simon and is intended for athletes who demonstrate financial need in order to continue training. Athletes applying for grants are required to complete an application and provide an essay on why they believe they are worthy grant recipients. Depending on the number of applications and earnings available on the original $1-million principal, there could possibly be one or two more grants awarded this year. The trustees can award any amount of money to eligible athletes as long as there is money left for the year. The distribution of up to 10 grants is expected beginning next year, but the trustees will decide on a rolling basis the actual number of grants awarded.
"The intent of the endowment is to provide funding for up-and-coming athletes, where the money would make a difference in both their success in sport and in their life in general," Curt Hamakawa, USOC Director of Athlete Support, said. "It's not intended for the elite athletes who have already arrived and are receiving funding from the USOC, their NGB or other sources, but for those athletes who wouldn't have these opportunities otherwise."
Muhammad was a 17-time All-America swimmer at Stanford University, graduating in June 1998 with a 4.0 grade point average as an international relations major. He is the 17th-fastest American ever in the 100-meter butterfly, and was only the fourth African-American to make a U.S. National team when he qualified for the 1995 Pan Pacific Championships. Muhammad was third in the 100m butterfly and sixth in the 50m freestyle at this summer's National Championships in Clovis, Calif. Next summer, he will represent the USA at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada.
The creation of the William E. Simon Endowment Fund is the continuation of Olympic support and USOC involvement by Simon spanning the past 25 years. He began his USOC association as the National Fund Raising Chairman from 1969-72 before becoming a member of the Executive Board. Simon was the USOC Treasurer and then served as USOC President from 1981-84, overseeing both the Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo and the Games of the XXIIIrd Olympiad in Los Angeles. Since that time he has been on the Board of Directors and the Finance Committee as well as the U.S. Olympic Foundation Board of Trustees. Simon's Olympic involvement also includes work with the national governing bodies, such as USA Boxing, the U.S. Equestrian Team and the U.S. Association for Blind Athletes among others.
Simon was inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in 1991 and one of the two new athlete residence halls, which opened in April 1997, at the U.S. Olympic Complex in Colorado Springs bears his name.