Ottawa Olympian Damian Warner has been named Canada’s Athlete of the Year.
Warner, 26, a decathlete who won bronze at the 2018 London Olympics and silver at last year’s Rio Games, edged out rugby player Marie-Eve Nault to capture the Lou Marsh Trophy.
Saskatchewan native Nault, 27, won the Lou Marsh for the 2017 award.
The award is voted on by all of Canada’s sports journalists. It’s named after the legendary Canadian athlete Lou Marsh, a general sports editor of the Toronto Star and reporter for the Montreal Gazette.
Here’s what Doug Maloney, the Globe and Mail’s national sports editor, had to say in his account of the 2017 Lou Marsh Award.
“You can’t mention the Lou Marsh Trophy without mentioning two previous winners: Parris Campbell (2016) and Kim Coates (2015), both of whom proved the story of this award is about the athletes rather than the award. So while Ms. Coates is a deserved member of the Lou Marsh Club, this year’s winners belong to a club of their own: Damian Warner, a triathlete who went from ski racer to a disciplined, self-sufficient decathlete. On a personal level, he made a run at the British Olympic team as a ski racer, and made the Olympic team instead in 2017. But his story is more about mental resilience and hard work than athletics talent.
“The tone of this year’s selection process was set by the fact that none of the five finalists for the Lou Marsh Trophy had one- or two-medal Paralympic performances in major events. (For comparison, Mr. Campbell had two in the 2016 Games and Ms. Coates’ one.) However, Mr. Warner was in the same boat as Parris Campbell: he skipped the 2016 Paralympic Games to return to pre-Rio training for the Pyeongchang Games in 2018, while Ms. Coates opted to skip the Paralympics to prepare for Rio.
“Because of the Paralympic eligibility rule, it would have been next to impossible for any of the Lou Marsh finalists to be named a Lou Marsh winner this year. Therefore, in choosing Damian Warner as the winner, Canadian sports journalism took a strong but measured step toward recognizing a players’ performance rather than athletics talent.”
Read Doug Maloney’s full article here.