December 8, 2021
The 44th Canadian Sport Awards have been rebranded to focus more closely on trailblazers, athlete-centred accomplishments and initiatives – with the ultimate goal to unite, amplify and celebrate the leadership and voices of Canada’s national team athletes.
Following an exciting return to sport over the course of 2021, AthletesCAN will unveil the finalists for each award from Dec. 7-14, culminating in live virtual broadcast announcing the winners on Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT on AthletesCAN’s digital channels.
The True Sport Award recognizes an inspirational Canadian citizen who exemplifies true sport values of fairness, excellence, inclusion, and fun in a meaningful way. Through the pursuit of sporting excellence this Canadian hero showcases dedication, perseverance, sportsmanship, respect for others, and a true love of sport.
Alphono Davies, Soccer
Davies has led the National Men’s Team to the final stage of CONCACAF qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1997, helping them pursue a berth in the global tournament they have only reached once back in 1986. Adding to his historical accomplishments, the Bayern Munich star also became the first Canadian and soccer player in in March to be named a Global Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Evan Dunfee, Athletics (Race Walk)
Dunfee won the bronze medal in the 50 km racewalk at the Tokyo 2020 Games, in what proved to be a moment of redemption. The two-time Olympian demonstrated true sportsmanship four years earlier in Rio, when he elected not to protest his fourth-place finish, after being bumped off stride by the eventual bronze medalist from Japan – who was initially disqualified, then later reinstated – in the closing stages of the race. Choosing to maintain his integrity and accept the decision, Dunfee was rewarded in July with his own come-from-behind triumph this past summer, capturing Canada’s first Olympic race walking medal in nearly three decades.
Leylah Fernandez, Tennis
Less than a month after making her Olympic debut in Tokyo, Fernandez finished runner up at the US Open, defeating a trio of top-five players en route to the final, including defending champion Naomi Osaka. Along the way, the 19-year-old of Filipina-Ecuadorian descent inspired a new generation of Canadian tennis with her run at the season’s final major, particularly in immigrant communities – showing composure and maturity beyond her years.
Kate O’Brien, Para Cycling (Track)
O’Brien defied the odds at the Tokyo Paralympics winning a silver medal in para track cycling, after a devastating accident nearly ended her athletic career. The 2016 Olympian and former bobsledder suffered several severe injuries including to her brain, following a demonstration event in 2017 and was told she would never walk, ride her bike or speak properly again. O’Brien persevered through surgery, physiotherapy and even an epilepsy diagnosis, learned how to keep seizures at bay before ultimately returning to the cycling track.