Olympic gold medallist Billy Mills founded a charitable organisation to help native Americans achieve their ambitions ©Getty Images

Billy Mills, Olympic 10,000 metres gold medallist at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics has been named one of Team USA’s Community Champions for 2022.

Mills was honoured for his work in encouraging other Native American communities for more than 30 years.

He co-founded Running Strong for American Indian Youth to “meet the critical needs of Native communities, foster cultural identity development and support Native youth in pursuit of their dreams," read a Team USA statement.

"Our Team USA Community Champions show us the meaning of service and the difference we can make in the lives of others," United States Olympic and Paralympic Foundation (USOPF) President Christine Walshe said.

"We hope that their efforts inspire others to do what they can to make a positive impact in their own communities."

An award was also made to middle distance runner Mary Cain who has become an advocate for the fair treatment of female athletes.

Cain, a world junior 3000m gold medallist in 2014, later filed a lawsuit against Alberto Salazar and Nike, alleging "emotional abuse," whilst she was a member of the Nike training camp in Eugene.

Cain, who is now switching from athletics to triathlon, founded Atalanta NYC, a New York City-based non-profit organisation that "employs and supports professional female runners so they can achieve their highest athletic goals while building their career skills."

The organisation also offers mentoring to girls in underserved parts of the city.

The foundation also selected biathlete Kelsey Dickinson who competed in the International Biathlon Union World Championships in Oberhof where she finished 67th in the women's individual and 15th with the United States in the women's 4x6 km relay.

In addition to her competitive career, Dickinson works as a volunteer with the  Women Ski Coaches Association (WSCA) which works to develop, retain and advance women in ski coaching leadership.

She also serves as a gender equity ambassador for the International Biathlon Union and an ambassador for Athlete Ally.

The fourth nominee Tyler Merren, a four time Paralympian in goalball, who has worked as a volunteer for over 20 years with the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes which tries to help the blind and visually impaired to "experience life-changing opportunities in sports, recreation and physical activities."

The award made by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Foundation (USOPF) in partnership with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and US Olympic and Paralympic sponsor Comcast.

Awards are given to athletes who embody the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship and the Paralympic values of determination, inspiration, equality and courage as well as charitable organisations whose missions focus on youth sport, physical activity, or health and wellbeing.

They carry a prize of $25,000 (£20,000/€23,000) which is split equally between the non profit organisation nominated by the athlete and the athlete themselves.

Half of each grant is directed to the athlete’s non-profit of choice, while half is awarded to the athlete. 

There were 100 applicants for the 2022 award, of which over two thirds had competed at either the Olympics or Paralympics.

The awards were first established in 2021 as the Team USA Service & Hope Award.

"Comcast is proud to support the Team USA Community Champions award and congratulates the 2022 recipients,” Comcast senior director of brand partnerships and amplication Jessica Muir said. 

"These remarkable athletes exemplify what it truly means to be a champion, by shining a light on their wonderful accomplishments and impact on their communities, we hope to inspire future generations, the Team of Tomorrow.”

Applications for the 2023 award close on April 17, 2023.