(St. John’s, NFLD) – Top athletes, coaches and builders were honoured this week for their contributions to wheelchair sports across Canada at the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association Awards Banquet. Representatives from wheelchair sports organizations across the country gathered Saturday night in St. John’s to pay tribute to the many exceptional individuals who have impacted the wheelchair sports community this year.
“While we welcome the opportunity to celebrate our members for their performances at the London 2012 Paralympics, this night also showcases the hard work done from the grassroots to the high performance level across the country,” said Executive Director Cathy Cadieux.
This year’s winners are:
Female Athlete of the Year – Michelle Stilwell (Parksville, BC). Michelle Stilwell, who was last year’s winner, continued her dominance on the track this year. Not only did she win a gold medal in the T52 200m and a silver medal in the T52 100m, but she also set two World Records and a Paralympic record.
Male Athlete of the Year – Patrick Anderson (Fergus, Ontario). Considered one of the best wheelchair basketball players in the sport’s history, Patrick Anderson led the Canadian men’s wheelchair basketball team to a gold medal at the London 2012 Paralympics. During the Paralympics, he racked up as astounded two triple-doubles, plus came within one rebound of earning two more triple-doubles, a fact that is especially impressive given that only two other triple-doubles have ever been recorded in the history of the Paralympics.
Doug Grant Memorial Award for Team of the Year – The Canadian Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team. Led by Coach Jerry Tonello, the Canadian men’s wheelchair basketball team rebounded from a seventh-place performance at the World Championships to earn a gold medal at the London 2012 Paralympics. The team went undefeated throughout its Paralympic campaign.
Rick Hansen Award – G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre (Vancouver, BC). Since 1949, G.F. Strong has provided comprehensive rehabilitation services for people with disabilities and has been a strong partner in the wheelchair sports community in British Columbia.
Dr. R.W. Jackson Memorial Award – José Malo (Montreal, QC). José has 30 years of experience working with athletes with a disability at three organizations. In addition to consolidating many sports under the AQSFR banner, she was also instrumental in integrating wheelchair athletes in the able-bodied events and creating a multi-sport program for recruitment and retention of wheelchair athletes.
Stephan Dubuc Memorial Award for Coach of the Year – Jerry Tonello (Ontario). Jerry Tonello coached the Canadian men’s wheelchair basketball national team to a gold medal performance at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Stan Stronge Award – Bo Hedges (Wonowon, BC) – Not only was Bo Hedges crucial to the Canadian men’s wheelchair basketball team’s gold medal performance at the London 2012 Paralympics, but he also gives back to the community by volunteering as a coach, board member and athlete representative.
Volunteer of the Year – Bill Funk (Niverville, MB) – For the past 15 years, Bill Funk has been a coach, manager, equipment manager, sport promoter and fundraiser in Manitoba.