By Karen Rosen
Cox News Service

NEW YORK -- Sitting onstage with figure skating gold medalist Sarah Hughes, world champion swimmer Michael Phelps and Olympic champion speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno for the 74th Annual Sullivan Award ceremony, Philippa "Phil" Raschker felt out of place last night.

"All these young kids here, it made me feel like, 'Here's Grandma sitting next to her grandchildren,' " said Raschker, 57, a Marietta, Ga. tax accountant. "And still I feel like with what I accomplished, it was well-deserved to be part of it."

Raschker, who has won 68 medals on the world level in masters track and field, watched Phelps claim the Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete.

Phelps, 18, of Baltimore, rode the wave from his six medals at the World Championships, where he became the first swimmer to set five world records in one meet.

"Phil won by being here," said Bobby Dodd, president of the AAU.

"I don't know if I'll be swimming past 30," he said. "She's obviously doing great things at her age, and like she said, you never know what can happen when you really love and want to do something."

Hughes, the 2002 Sullivan Award winner, presented Phelps with the trophy.

LeBron James, who was a high school basketball phenom before joining the Cleveland Cavaliers, told the AAU that a prior commitment prevented him from attending the ceremony although he was in New York for tonight's game vs. the Knicks. Diana Taurasi, the Connecticut basketball star, was playing an exhibition game with the U.S. national team in Texas.

Raschker was almost giddy when the formal ceremony ended Tuesday night and the autograph session began. She wore a blue-green crushed velvet dress with a halter top that showed off the muscles in her arms and her back.

"I'm not used to this kind of stuff," Raschker said. "For the masters program, we're just not used to getting any kind of publicity."

She was interrupted by a 73-year-old masters swimmer who wanted an autograph and to find out how often she trains (four times a week).

Isn't it fun to be in the limelight for once? "Yes and no," Raschker said. "I'm perfect behind the scenes. This is part of me growing up at 57, to really try to be comfortable. . . . My heart was jumping way out the window onto Central Park, and I just couldn't settle down."

Peg Adams, president of the Georgia AAU and a Sullivan committee member, said Raschker did "really, really well in the voting. There are people who appreciated what a great job she did."


**** OVER 100 NEWSPAPERS: A.P. STORIES WITH PHIL RASCHKER -MASTERS TRACK IN USA Today, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Tribune, NY Newsday, San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle and OVER 100 others, Plus CNN, Fox, National College TV, and myriad of indivudual stations according a Google "News" search for "Raschker Sullivan" -- the stories all mentioned "57-year-old masters track-and-field athlete Philippa Raschker, an accountant from Marietta, Ga." 

*** (A note for folks who care about the organizational element: until we called the NYC AP Daybook at 11AM the day of the event, the AP Daybook editor, Tom McIntyre - -who puts it on the calendar for AP and which all other media work from -- told us it was the first he's heard about it and he took phone notes and blasted the event out as a media "to be covered" calendar item, including exactly what we told him with Philippa Raschker's name as masters track and 57-year-old accountant from Marietta, GA -- as all the stories then stated. I had asked Phil what she does other than track so the media could know the human part; and her exact age which in this case adds to the story.  In addition, a CNN crew who came and covered (Story also in Google) following a call we made to their assignment desk the day before the event and their follow-up to us the morning of the event, told us it was our call in their memo file that generated their coverage; and the National College TV network reporter covering the event said he was contacted by his editor the day of the event to come following the AP Daybook rollout.  Fox TV also covered, using the AP story with Phil).