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HIGH ACHIEVERS: Ottawa Lions honour their best at annual banquet

By Martin Cleary

The National Capital Region has produced many great track and field athletes over the years, like middle-distance runners Glenda Reiser and Melissa Bishop-Nriagu, marathoner Bruce Deacon, high jumper Brian Marshall and race-walker Ann Peel.

But perhaps the greatest Ottawa athlete to run around the track and/or fly through the air into a pile of manicured sand was Glenroy Gilbert.

His name was in the air recently as the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club celebrated the past season during its annual awards banquet. And the Gilbert Awards, which were named in Glenroy’s honour in 1997 after he was selected the top male athlete the previous seven times, were presented for the 25th time last month. They are given to the top male and female athletes in the track discipline as well as the field discipline.

Gilbert, the Athletics Canada national team head coach, can speak to both sides of the sport as he competed in his first Summer Olympic Games in long jump (1988) and the next three Games as a sprinter. He also was a man for all Olympic seasons as he raced for Canada at the 1994 Winter Games in two- and four-man bobsleigh.

Not only did he participate in all of the major championships and Games for Canada, but also he was a significant contributor to the team’s success.

During the mid-1990s, he was one of the world’s best second-leg runners in the men’s 4×100-metre relay, capturing Olympic gold in 1996, world championship gold in 1995 and 1997, and Commonwealth Games gold in 1994. The 1993 world championships showed Canada’s 4×100-metre relay potential, when Gilbert was part of the bronze-medal team.

Individually, Gilbert also was quick out of the starting blocks. He was the men’s 100-metre gold medallist at the 1995 Pan Am Games in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

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After retiring from international competition in 2001, he turned to coaching and held that role on the Canadian team for the next five Summer Olympic Games (2004-2021), which has given him a total of 11 Olympic experiences.

Humble and soft-spoken with a hearty laugh alongside his multitude of golden moments, Gilbert was honoured by the Lions in 1997 because he “exemplified the true spirit of a champion.”

The four Gilbert Awards winners for 2022 were: Lauren Gale, women’s track; David Adeleye, men’s track; Audrey Goddard, women’s field; and Tommy Nedow, men’s field.

A 2021 Olympian as a 400-metre runner, Gale had a record-breaking 2021-22 indoor track season as she graduated from Colorado State University and helped Canada at the world indoor championships.

Gale set national indoor women’s records at 200 metres (23.00 seconds) and 400 metres (51.64) as well as the 4×400-metre relay at the world indoor championships (3:31.45). She was named to Canada’s team for the world outdoor championships, where she raced over 200 and 400 metres, the Commonwealth Games and the continental NACAC championships. At the club level, she broke outdoor records in the women’s 200 metres (22.82) and 400 metres (51.30).

In previous banquets, Gale was named the club’s top U14 track athlete in 2012 and 2013 and the best U16 runner in 2015.

Adeleye excelled at three different national-level competitions, establishing personal-best times each time and winning medals on two occasions.

At the Canada Summer Games, he lowered his men’s 110-metre hurdles personal best by more than three-tenths of a second and also broke the meet record with a time of 14.03 to earn the silver medal. Earlier at the Canadian senior athletics championships, the University of Toronto student-athlete posted a PB for a fifth-place result in 14.34.

Adeleye, the Lions’ most outstanding U20 track athlete in 2021 and U18 athlete in 2019, earned the bronze medal in the 60-metre hurdles at the U Sports university indoor championships with a best-ever time of 8.07.

Goddard made club history, when she became the first U20 athlete to win the most outstanding female field athlete award. And she did it as a first-year heptathlete.

She placed second at the Canadian U20 championships with a heptathlon score of 4,480 points, the third-highest in club history, and was second in the Ontario trials for the Canada Summer Games with a wind-aided score of 4,658.

Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Tommy Nedow was the senior discus silver medallist at the Canadian championships and won his first Gilbert Award in the men’s field category. Brother Tim Nedow was a Gilbert Awards winner at the previous six banquets for his achievements in shot put and discus.

An all-around field athlete, Tommy was the Ontario discus and hammer throw champion and also earned bronze medals in discus and shot put at the Canada Summer Games. In 2017, Tommy was the U20 most outstanding field athlete.

The Sam Estwick Memorial Awards were presented to visually-impaired sprinter Bianca Borgella and wheelchair athlete Josh Cassidy.

Winner of three gold medals at the Canadian championships (100 metres and 400 metres in the para ambulatory class and anchor for the women’s open 4×100-metre relay), Borgella lowered her national 100-metre record to 12.37 and 400-metre record to 1:00.84 at the Ontario trials for the Canada Summer Games. Her times of 12.37 and 1:00.84 are ranked No. 2 and No. 7 respectively in the world in the women’s T13 class.

Cassidy was Canada’s Opening Ceremony flagbearer at the Commonwealth Games, where he competed in the 1,500 metres and the marathon. He won para wheelchair silver and bronze medals in the 800 and 1,500 metres respectively at the Canadian championships.

Here are the other award winners at the Lions’ annual banquet:

U20: Elizabeth Vroom (female) & David Moulongou and Luca Nicoletti (shared, male).

U18: Amelia Van Brabant (female) & Nolan Legare (male).

U16: Quinn Coughlin (female) & Will Batley and Timeo Atonfo (shared, male).

Masters: Kimberley Howitt (female) & Bob Staveley (male).

Most Outstanding Road Racer: Nico Pedersen (male).

Sean Cole Memorial Award (dedication to club service): Thomas Faour.

Most Outstanding Cross-Country Runner: Amelia Van Brabant (female) & Zachary Sikka (male).

Most Outstanding Carleton University Athlete: Alexandra Telford.

Denis Landry Award (Most Outstanding University of Ottawa Athlete): Sydney Smith (female) & Thomas Senechal-Becker (male).

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Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 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

Martin can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter @martincleary.

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