HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-At-Home Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
The 68th Ottawa Sports Awards has a new look, but organizers hope it’s short-lived. The presence of COVID-19 has meant no dinner, no individual and team awards for the 2021 banquet.
But organizers of Canada’s most comprehensive and inclusive amateur sports awards event have named the Mayor’s Cup and three Lifetime Achievement Award winners for 2020. And there’s a big family theme this time.
The Mayor’s Cup for outstanding contribution to sport in Ottawa, which was first presented in 2004, goes to the Takahashi family for their leadership, dedication and performance in combat sports.
Retired FIFA soccer referee Carol Anne Chenard earned the Lifetime Award for technical official. That’s the same award won in 2010 by her mother Sandra, who was a top international speed skating official.
The Ottawa Sports Awards also announced Wednesday Lifetime Awards for figure skating’s Eric Loucks, coaching, and Dean Sherratt, volunteer/administrator. Organizers hope to present the four awards at an in-person ceremony, when gatherings are allowed in 2021.
Masao and June Takahashi founded Takahashi Dojo in 1969 as a way to teach and compete in judo, and promote Japanese culture in Ottawa. Masao, an eighth degree black belt, died earlier this year.
Masao was a judo official at the 1976 Summer Olympics and son, Ray, shared the Games with him as a wrestler. Ray, a 16x national champion, was named to three Olympic teams and placed fourth in 1984.
Phil, who also passed away earlier this year, represented Canada in judo at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. Tina was Canada’s first women’s Olympic judo coach for the 1988 Games.
June, who also worked at Judo Canada, had an Olympic connection as well, coaching Cameroon’s Francoise Nguele in 2000. In his career, Allyn won multiple provincial, regional and American judo medals.
After an athletic career as a national-team, short-track speed skater, Carol Anne Chenard turned to soccer officiating and became one of only four Canadians to be a FIFA referee for 15 or more years.
She officiated at the 2011 and 2015 FIFA women’s World Cup and earned the assignment in 2019, but was forced to step back and eventually retire, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Chenard also was a referee at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Her level of officiating earned her a berth on the officiating crew for the 2016 Olympic women’s soccer gold-medal final.
Chenard, who refereed three FIFA U20 Women’s World Cups and two in the U17 division, also presided over games in the FIFA U17 Men’s World Cup and the 2019 Premier League, which was its inaugural season.
“Carol Anne Chenard has long been at the pinnacle of international refereeing, breaking barriers over an impressive career that placed her as an inspiration for aspiring referees,” Canada Soccer president Steven Reed said recently.
In 2021, Eric Loucks will enter his 50th year coaching at the Minto Skating Club. He has coached singles and ice dance skaters at all levels from sectionals to the Olympics and world championships.
Loucks was part of Canada’s 1998 Winter Olympic Games team, when he coached Chantal Lefebvre and Michel Brunet, who also went to four senior world championships and won four Canadian championship silver medals.
Off the ice, Loucks become only the second skating coach in Ontario and third in Canada to achieve Level 5 NCCP certification in 2010. He specializes in freeskate and ice dance.
As president of the National Capital Wrestling Club, Dean Sherratt worked hard to provide athletes and coaches with facility space, equipment and a variety of developmental programs.
Sherratt also has worked with school board officials, and high school coaches/teachers to promote and grow wrestling as well as establish pathways leading to provincial and national success.
“More than 600 wrestlers have benefitted from his programs to distribute low-cost equipment, providing many youth an opportunity to stay in the sport,” the Ottawa Sports Awards press release said.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for over 47 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.