By Martin Cleary
Oh, how times have changed in the celebration of the achievements of Ottawa’s top amateur athletes … and it’s all a good thing.
At the inaugural Associated Canadian Travellers Sportsman’s Dinner in 1953, a total of 16 athletes were honoured in the same number of sports.
But if you study the list closely, you’ll see there were only two women in that elite group – equestrian’s Shirley Thomas and water skiing’s Jacqueline Gauthier.
And it was the same in 1954 as only alpine skiing’s Anne Heggtveit and water skiing’s Janet Lintell dominated their sports as women and had their special moment of celebration.
But it got worse. At the three A.C.T. sports award dinners from 1956 through 1958, the selection committee only honoured one woman each year.
The saving grace was it was a female who was named the Athlete of the Year in four of the first six years – Thomas in 1953, Heggtveit in 1954 and 1958 (later in 1960), and tennis’ Mariette Laframboise in 1957.
If we flip the calendar ahead to next month’s 70th Ottawa Sports Awards dinner, the female athlete will have a much greater presence, when it comes to recognizing Ottawa’s top 2022 athletes in each sport.
In fact, it will mark only the third time in the history of the dinner the majority of the individual-sport awards will be directed to female athletes. Dinner organizers will pay tribute to the city’s best athletes on Feb. 8 in 65 sports and 35 female athletes (53.8 per cent) will be honoured at the Centurion Conference and Event Centre.
The other two occasions were during the past 11 years – 35 female athletes honoured in 64 sports (54.7 per cent) in 2016 and 33 women honoured in 63 sports (52.4 per cent) in 2011.
It’s safe to say more and more female athletes have become part of the competitive sports movement in the decades following the 1950s. And the athletic performances of Ottawa’s and Canada’s female athletes regularly make headlines at Olympics, world championships, World Cup competitions and national championships.
Here is the list of athletes who will be honoured in 65 sports at the 2023 Ottawa Sports Awards Dinner as well as the 26 championship-award-winning teams:
Archery: Eric Peters
Athletics: Lauren Gale
Badminton: Alexander Bianchini
Baseball: Ty Hamilton
Basketball: Cassandra Prosper
Wheelchair Basketball: Desmond O’Shaughnessy
Biathlon: Shilo Rousseau
Bobsleigh: Mike Evelyn
5 Pin Bowling: France Hotte
Boxing: Alexander Moghadam
Canoe/Kayak Sprint: Brianna Hennessy
Canoe/Kayak Whitewater: Lois Betteridge
Cricket: Manvir Mankoo
Cross Country Running: Saul Taler
Curling: Collinda Joseph
Cycling: Derek Gee
Diving: Kathryn Grant
Equestrian: Rayne Dubois
Fencing: Trinity Lowthian
Field Hockey: Rowan Harris
Figure Skating: David Shteyngart
Football: James Peter
Aussie Rules Football: Jordan Harcombe
Touch Football: Erika Bennett
Goalball: Amy Burk
Golf: James Newton
Artistic Gymnastics: Jenna Lalonde
Rhythmic Gymnastics: Cynthia Zhang
Hockey: Jamie Lee Rattray
Ball Hockey: Elysia Desmier-Pelletier
Judo: Ben Kendrick
Karate: Karim Ghaly
Lacrosse: Tristan Thompson
Lawn Bowling: David Jefferies
Orienteering: Robert Graham
Para Ice Hockey: Tyrone Henry
Parasport: Bianca Borgella
Ringette: Sara Hayami
Rowing: Josh King
Rugby: Ketsia Kamba
Wheelchair Rugby: Patrice Dagenais
Shooting: Brian LaGroix
Skeleton: Mirela Rahneva
Alpine Skiing: Hannah Schmidt
Freestyle Skiing: Aaron Turnau
Nordic Skiing: Katherine Stewart-Jones
Snowboarding: Alexandre Cadieux
Soccer: Annabelle Chukwu
Softball: Jordanna Hartley
Special Olympics: Katie Xu
Long-Track Speed Skating: Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann
Short-Track Speed Skating: Matthew Freitag
Squash: Iman Shaheen
Swimming: Julie Brousseau
Artistic Swimming: Madison Murphy
Table Tennis: Demi Yu Ting Cai
Taekwondo: Benjamin Tait
Tennis: Anna-Raphaëlle Serghi
Trampoline: Lara Fainstat
Triathlon: Miguel Alvarez
Ultimate Frisbee: Brandon Adibe
Beach Volleyball: Owen Pickering and Simon Bourne
Water Polo: Bogdan Djerkovic
Weightlifting: Julia Ryan
Wrestling: Kai Harada
Badminton: Dani Roth and Katie Fong
Basketball: Capital Courts Academy girls, Carleton University Ravens men
Cricket: Cumberland Cricket Club
Cross-country running: Immaculata Catholic High School junior boys, Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club U18 girls
Curling: Howard Rajala, Rideau Curling Club
Figure skating: Lilly Napier and Joshua Dore
Football: St. Matthew Catholic High School, Cumberland Panthers U12
Judo: Takahashi-Walby team
Lacrosse: Nepean Knights junior B
Para ice hockey: Ottawa Open Sledge Hockey
Rugby: Ottawa Irish junior women U18
Artistic swimming: GO Capital junior competitive team, GO Capital junior competitive free duet (Alexa Murphy/Melissa Pilon), Go Capital 13-15 high performance, Go Capital junior high-performance combo, and GO Capital junior free duet (Sonia Dunn and Clara Thoma)
Soccer: Gloucester Celtic FC senior men, uOttawa Gee-Gees women, Ottawa South United U15, Ottawa South United Force U14 girls and Ottawa South United OPDL girls
Water polo: Ottawa Titans senior men, Ottawa Titans U17 girls
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 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 High Achievers “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 firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
HELP SHINE A LIGHT ON LOCAL SPORT! The Ottawa Sports Pages has proudly provided a voice for local sport for over 10 years, but we need your help to continue another 10 and beyond. Please donate to the Ottawa Sports Pages Fund today.