Maggie MacNeil Named ANOC’s Best Female Athlete of Tokyo 2020 Award

by Ben Dornan 30

October 25th, 2021 Canada, International, News, Tokyo 2020

The Association of National Olympic Committees held their Tokyo 2020 award ceremony over the weekend to honour some of the top athletes who competed at the Olympics. The committee gave out 9 main awards including the Best Female Athlete of Tokyo award, which went to Canadian swimmer Maggie MacNeil.

MacNeil swam her way to an Olympic gold medal in the women’s 100 butterfly, posting a 55.59 in the final to beat China’s Zhang Yufei (55.64) by just 0.05 and Emma McKeon (55.72) by 0.13. Despite having won gold in the event at the 2019 World Championships, MacNeil wasn’t a sure bet to win gold heading into the Tokyo final, having placed 5th overall in the prelims with a 56.55 and 6th during the semi-finals with a 56.56.

In addition to gold in the 100 butterfly, MacNeil helped her fellow Canadians to a silver medal in the 4×100 freestyle relay along with a bronze in the 4×100 medley. She, Kayla Sanchez, Rebecca Smith, and Penny Oleksiak hit a 3:32.78 in the freestyle relay to trail the world record-breaking Australians by just over 3 seconds.

She also swam the butterfly leg of the women’s 4×100 medley relay, delivering a 55.27 split, which is faster than Sarah Sjostorm’s current world record in the 100 fly of 55.48. MacNeil, Kylie Masse (57.90), Sydney Pickrem (1:07.17), and Penny Oleksiak (52.26) wound up swimming a 3:52.60 Canadian record in the event to join Australia (3:51.60) and the United States (3:51.73) on the podium.

MacNeil was one of three Canadian women to win three medals at the Tokyo Games. Fellow medley relay medalists Penny Oleksiak and Kylie Masse also stood on three podiums as Oleksiak took 200 freestyle silver and 4×100 freestyle bronze while Masse earned silver in both the 100 and 200 backstrokes.

MacNeil was honored at the ANOC ceremony in Greece alongside her fellow award winners including Eliud Kipchoge, the Kenyan runner who won gold in the marathon in Tokyo.

2021 ANOC Award Winners

  • Best Female Multiple Athlete Event of Tokyo 2020: Estonia Fencing Épée Team
  • Best Male Multiple Athlete Event of Tokyo 2020: Italy Cycling-Track Team Pursuit
  • Best Female Team of Tokyo 2020: New Zealand Rugby Sevens
  • Best Male Team of Tokyo 2020: Japan Baseball
  • Best Female Athlete of Tokyo 2020: Maggie Mac Neil
  • Best Male Athlete of Tokyo 2020: Eliud Kipchoge
  • Outstanding Athlete Performance: Mijaín López
  • Outstanding NOC of Tokyo 2020: Japanese Olympic Committee
  • Contribution to the Olympic Movement: John Coates

ANOC Diploma for Breakthrough NOCs recipients

  • Bermuda Olympic Association
  • Philippine Olympic Committee
  • Burkina Faso National Olympic Committee
  • San Marino National Olympic Committee
  • National Olympic Committee of Turkmenistan

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2 years ago

This result cannot be based on overall athletic performance. I have seen no article mention the voting criteria, but it must be something like “athlete who best exemplifies the ‘Olympic Spirit’ while also having a solid performance”.

As other posters have mentioned, she’s not even in the top 5 female swimming performers. I would give the best athletic performance award overall to Sifan Hassan. Slight edge over McKeon. What Hassan did on the track has never been done before and the way she did it in the Tokyo heat was just insane. McKeon’s accomplishment was also unique, but owed partly to the new relat event, fast real partners and may be slightly behind Ledecky’s 2016 games as the best female… Read more »

Reply to  Dan
2 years ago

Agree totally.

2 years ago

Didn’t she win MVP for NCAA when Madden won 3 individual events and a relay also?

2 years ago

i wonder if how competitive the events were played a role in this? Wattel, who swam a 56.27 that would’ve won silver in Rio/London and gold in Beijing had to settle for a 6th place finish in Tokyo.

Reply to  jeff
2 years ago

100 back and 100 free were at least as competitive as 100 fly and the winners both won multiple individual gold as well as relay gold.

Last edited 2 years ago by Troyy
Reply to  Troyy
2 years ago

yeah the 100 free OR has been broken in every quad since 1992 and there were 5 people under the 2016 mark in the 2020 final. not to mention 7th place would’ve been outright bronze in rio.

Reply to  jeff
2 years ago

It would be very disappointing if the time that won gold 13 years ago was still winning medals.

2 years ago

Just comparing swimmers:

MacNeil: 1 individual gold (Americas record x 1), 1 relay silver and bronze (National record)
Schoenmaker: 1 individual gold (world record and multiple Olympic records), 1 individual silver
McKeon: 2 individual golds (both breaking multiple Olympic records), 1 individual bronze (Oceanic record), 2 relay gold (1 world record and 1 Olympic record), 2 relay bronze, tied most Olympic medals by a female Olympian at a single Olympics ever
Titmus: 2 individual gold (Olympic and Oceanic records), 1 individual silver (Oceanic record), 1 relay bronze (Oceanic record)
Ledecky: 2 individual gold, 1 individual silver, 1 relay silver (Americas record)
McKeown: 2 individual gold (Multiple Olympic records), 1 relay gold (Olympic record), 1 relay… Read more »

Reply to  Jamesabc
2 years ago

Zhang YuFei also had another silver medley in the mixed relay

Aside from that it’s a very thorough analysis. Well done!

Last edited 2 years ago by Theguywhohatestocomment
2 years ago

There’s a lot of individual women’s medalist so it’ll always up to debate. Mckeon aside, there’s also sifan hassan and elaine thompson-herah to name if we want to compare and arguably they are even more outstanding than mckeon but from what I see, the awards are also spreaded throughout all continent and sports. The great Kipchoge from africa/athletic. NZ recipient is rugby seven team and they represent oceania. Japan’s baseball team for asia. The multiple athlete awards are both from europe and they’re from track cycling and fencing. And maggie seems to represent America’s Americas. Beside her, I think the standout are athing mu and elaine but then again there’s already athletic from kipchoge. Swimming is one of the main… Read more »

2 years ago

I assumed this was a Canadian award and thought “oh awesome for her”. Once I realised it was overall I was so confused.

Maggie is great. I love her. But literally 8 (from the top of my head) women won multiple golds, with 5 of them winning multiple individual golds. It seems odd to say the best overall athlete was the one who only got a single individual medal.

Big mac #1
Reply to  Sub13
2 years ago

Might there be more than just medal count considered in best athletes? What makes great athletes? I’d argue that character and sportsmanship are nearly as important of factors.

2 years ago

McKeon was racing in Doha this weekend, the aussies couldn’t come prob cuz of quarantine restrictions, and MacNeil broke an Americas record, in which ledecky did not. So seems pretty valid to me

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Canadianh2ooooo
2 years ago

What quarantine restrictions?

The fact that McKeon has been competiting in three FINA events in three different countries (as well as ISL events) means she has no problem with Covid

Americas record? Lol.

McKeon broke world record (400 free relay) and several Olympics record.

Also, other athletes eg. Sifan Hassan, Ariarne Titmus, Kaylee McKeown, etc have much better claim.

This is so random.

Last edited 2 years ago by Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
2 years ago

I meat for them to return to Australia afterwards

2 years ago

Hard not to cheer for Maggie, but this does seem a bit random….

Last edited 2 years ago by Torchbearer
Reply to  Torchbearer
2 years ago

(Still remember when Maggie chose to swim at Junior Pan pacs in 2018 instead of senior pan pacs because she’d get to race more I think. )
McKeon deserved this award though.

Reply to  Joel
2 years ago

Seems like Junior PP 2018 was a great development decision as she ended up being Olympic champ 3 years later!

Reply to  Canuswim
2 years ago

Totally agree

Reply to  Canuswim
2 years ago

And she got to go Fiji.

Reply to  Joel
2 years ago

She chose to race at Junior Pan Pacs instead of senior pan pacs because it didn’t conflict with the start of her first year of University since she had classes that started in the summer months