Gold medals are special enough. But four ESPN Great Outdoor Games medalists have an opportunity to double the value of a gold with one of sports' most prestigious awards.
Those four medalists have been nominated for ESPY Awards, which celebrate crowning achievements, relive memorable moments and recognize top performers and performances. ESPN will televise the event live on July 16 at 9 p.m. ET.
While the Great Outdoor Games will highlight one ESPY Award winner (Kevin Van Dam who won for his bass fishing performances in 2002) by the time the Great Outdoor Games gets started in 2004 there could be two winners in the ranks.
This year's nominees include:
Jerry Day and Super Sue
Day, the dean of retriever handlers, and his yellow Labrador, Super Sue, won the gold medal in the 2001 ESPN Great Outdoor Games retriever trails and followed up with a silver medal in 2002.
The retriever/handler duo is noted for their closeness. They work so well together that Sue is the only retriever in the world to have earned top titles from all three major retriever sport organizers. She is an HRC/UKC Hunting Retriever Champion, an AKC Field Champion, Amateur Field Champion and Master Hunter, and a NAHRA Master Hunting Retriever.
And the team will be vying for their third straight medal in Reno, Nev.
Mike Jackson and Little Morgan
If cats were allowed in Big Air competitions, then Little Morgan would certainly be a tiger, Tiger Woods to be exact.
It's hard to draw that canine and kitty parallel except for the fact that Little Morgan has ruled over the jumping competitions since the black Labrador started jumping off docks a little over a year ago.
Little Morgan, handled by owner Mike Jackson, won the 2002 ESPN Great Outdoor Games gold medal in Big Air by blowing away the field and setting a world record with a 26-foot, 6-inch jump. And Morgan has continually gotten better, setting a world indoor record, and winning every Super Retriever Series competition he has entered, posting consistent 26-foot jumps throughout the 2002-2003 DockDogs season.
Jerry Miculek of Princeton, La. is the modern day version of the Wild West's fastest gun. He just does it with a rifle in the Rifle competition of the Great Outdoor Games.
Miculek has a philosophy of "Let it rip. At least a third of it (bullets) will hit (the target)."
To date the philosophy has been golden.
Miculek won the gold medal in the 2001 and 2002 Great Outdoor Games. But that's not all, he is also an 11-time International Revolver Speed Shooting Champion, a USPSA World Revolver Champion, a six-time USPSA National Revolver Champion, a four-time USPSA 3 Gun Champion, and holds three world record titles for revolver speed shooting.
Sheree Taylor is lumberjack or is it lumberjill? Regardless the New Zealander orchestrated a truly inspirational gold medal victory in the 2002 Great Outdoor Games in the Women's Endurance event.
Lumberjacks call the event grueling, agonizing work that requires an enormous amount of physical stamina. And from Taylor's perspective, it's nothing short of a miracle that she was there competing in the event, let alone winning the gold.
The reason? The summer before Taylor underwent four separate surgeries that had totally debilitated her.
"I was assured by my doctor that I would never be able to compete in my sports again,'' Taylor said moments after her win, still choking with emotion. "To me, my world had come to an end.''
For several months she was mostly bedridden and depressed.
It might have stayed that way too. But on Sept. 11, while Taylor lay in bed and watched the day's event unfold, she began to have a change of heart.
"I realized my hurt wasn't nearly as big as so many peoples,'' Taylor said. "I decided then to change things, to train, to win again.
"For me this is what this win is all about. It's not for the gold. It's for me.''
Who will win the ESPY won't be known until the July 16 telecast. Until then fans can cast votes to decide this year's ESPY winners by voting on ESPN.com and participating league and industry web sites.
Others vying for votes in the Outdoor category include, Jay Yelas, a longtime pro on the CITGO Bassmaster Tour, Yelas won both the 2002 CITGO Bassmaster Classic and the 2002 FLW Angler of the Year award. During the 2003 Tour season, he posted strong finishes that put him one point away from the Busch BASS Angler of the Year title going into the Tour's final event.