Penny Oleksiak Named Canada’s Athlete of the Year

16-year old Canadian swimmer Penny Oleksiak has won the 20116 Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s Athlete of the Year – making her one of the youngest-ever to win this award (behind Elaine Tanner, who won in 1966 at 15).

The award, organized by the Toronto Star, is selected by a panel of sports journalists from across the country. It has been given every year since 1936, with the exception of the war-time years of 1942, 1943, and 1944.

Oleksiak learned of the news while in class on Tuesday. During her high school law class, her teacher let her check her phone to learn of her fate – an exception to school policy.

“It was pretty exciting when I found out,” Oleksiak said via conference call after winning. “One of my teachers, Mr. McAlpine, is across the hallway. He was like freaking out after class when he found out. So that was fun.”

Oleksiak reignited the fire in Canadian swimming in 2016 to become the first Canadian to win 4 medals at the same Summer Olympics (in any sport) and the country’s youngest-ever Olympic champion when she won gold and broke the Olympic record in the 100 free – tied with American Simone Manuel. She also picked up a silver medal in the individual 100 fly and bronze medals as part of Canada’s 400 and 800 free relays.

The success built off her 2015 season where she won 6 medals at the World Junior Championships.

She wasn’t the only swimmer who placed as a finalist for the honor in 2016. Aurelie Rivard was nominated as well after winning 4 medals (3 golds, 1 silver) at the 2016 Paralympic Games. She was the country’s flag-bearer at the Paralympic closing ceremonies.

Also among the nominees were golfer Brooke Henderson, who won her first major title this year at the Women’s PGA Championship; Tennis player Milos Raonic, who reached the Grand Slam final at Wimbledon and finished the year ranked 3rd in the world; and high jumper Derek Drouin, who won gold in Rio after 6 consecutive successful jumps.

Oleksiak becomes the 8th swimmer in history to win the award, and first since Mark Tewksbury was honored in 1992. One synchronized swimmer, Carolyn Waldo, has also won the award. Swimmers have won the award more often than any sport aside from hockey (13) and figure skating (9).

Winners of the Lionel Conacher Award (male) and Bobbie Resenfeld Award (female) for 2016, a similar award given out by the Canadian Press, have not been announced yet.

All-time list of winners:

Year Winner Sport Win #
1936 Phil Edwards * Track and field 1
1937 Marshal Cleland Equestrian 1
1938 Bobby Pearce Rowing 1
1939 Bob Pirie Swimming 1
1940 Gérard Côté * Marathon 1
1941 Theo Dubois Rowing 1
1942 None
1943 None
1944 None
1945 Barbara Ann Scott Figure skating 1
1946 Joe Krol * Canadian football 1
1947 Barbara Ann Scott ^ Figure skating 2
1948 Barbara Ann Scott ^ Figure skating 3
1949 Cliff Lumsdon Swimming 1
1950 Bob McFarlane Canadian football & track and field 1
1951 Marlene Streit Golf 1
1952 George Genereux Shooting 1
1953 Doug Hepburn * Weightlifting 1
1954 Marilyn Bell ^ Swimming 1
1955 Beth Whittall Swimming 1
1956 Marlene Streit ^ Golf 2
1957 Maurice Richard * Ice hockey 1
1958 Lucile Wheeler ^ Alpine skiing 1
1959 Barbara Wagner & Bob Paul Figure skating 1
1960 Anne Heggtveit ^ Alpine skiing 1
1961 Bruce Kidd * Track and field 1
1962 Donald Jackson Figure skating 1
1963 Bill Crothers Track and field 1
1964 Roger Jackson & George Hungerford Rowing 1
1965 Petra Burka ^ Figure skating 1
1966 Elaine Tanner ^ Swimming 1
1967 Nancy Greene ^ Alpine skiing 1
1968 Nancy Greene ^ Alpine skiing 2
1969 Russ Jackson * Canadian football 1
1970 Bobby Orr * Ice hockey 1
1971 Hervé Filion Harness racing 1
1972 Phil Esposito * Ice hockey 1
1973 Sandy Hawley Horse racing 1
1974 Ferguson Jenkins * Baseball 1
1975 Bobby Clarke * Ice hockey 1
1976 Sandy Hawley Horse racing 2
1977 Guy Lafleur * Ice hockey 1
1978 Graham Smith Swimming 1
1978 Ken Read * Alpine skiing 1
1979 Sandra Post ^ Golf 1
1980 Terry Fox Marathon of Hope 1
1981 Susan Nattrass Shooting 1
1982 Wayne Gretzky * Ice hockey 1
1983 Rick Hansen[6] Wheelchair racing 1
1983 Wayne Gretzky * Ice hockey 2
1984 Gaétan Boucher Speed skating 1
1985 Wayne Gretzky * Ice hockey 3
1986 Ben Johnson * Track and field 1
1987 Ben Johnson * Track and field 2
1988 Carolyn Waldo ^ Synchronized swimming 1
1989 Wayne Gretzky * Ice hockey 4
1990 Kurt Browning * Figure skating 1
1991 Silken Laumann ^ Rowing 1
1992 Mark Tewksbury * Swimming 1
1993 Mario Lemieux * Ice hockey 1
1994 Myriam Bédard ^ Biathlon 1
1995 Jacques Villeneuve * Auto racing 1
1996 Donovan Bailey * Track and field 1
1997 Jacques Villeneuve * Auto racing 2
1998 Larry Walker * Baseball 1
1999 Caroline Brunet Kayaking 1
2000 Daniel Igali Wrestling 1
2001 Jamie Salé & David Pelletier Figure skating 1
2002 Catriona LeMay Doan ^ Speed skating 1
2003 Mike Weir * Golf 1
2004 Adam van Koeverden Kayaking 1
2005 Steve Nash * Basketball 1
2006 Cindy Klassen ^ Speed skating 1
2007 Sidney Crosby * Ice hockey 1
2008 Chantal Petitclerc ^[5] Wheelchair racing 1
2009 Sidney Crosby *[7] Ice hockey 2
2010 Joey Votto[8] Baseball 1
2011 Patrick Chan *[9] Figure skating 1
2012 Christine Sinclair ^[10] Soccer 1
2013 Jon Cornish[11] Canadian football 1
2014 Kaillie Humphries[12] Bobsleigh 1
2015 Carey Price*[13][14] Ice hockey 1
2016 Penny Oleksiak[15] Swimming 1

 

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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