Kicking off the first in-person AthletesCAN Forum weekend since 2019, veteran CBC Sports host Scott Russell will helm this year’s celebration of trailblazers, athlete-centred accomplishments and initiatives – as the Canadian Sport Awards take place on the evening of Friday, Sept. 8, with five notable winners recognized at the Vancouver Airport Marriott Hotel in Richmond, B.C and live on AthletesCAN’s digital channels. The event is made possible in part by the generous contribution of Richmond Sport Hosting.
Following Forum, a national digital campaign in partnership with CBC Sports along with the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees for the People’s Choice Award for Most Trending Moment of the Year will take place in December, after the conclusion of the 2023 Pan American and Parapan American Games in Santiago, Chile.
True Sport Award
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.
Michael Woods, Cycling
Michael Woods became just the third ever Canadian this season to win a stage at the Tour de France, one of the most prestigious bike races in the world. Formerly an elite middle-distance runner and Canadian junior record holder in the mile, Woods’ track career stalled due to injury, and he took up competitive cycling at an age when many other cyclists are beginning to burn out. He is believed to be the only person in history to have run a sub four-minute mile and to have successfully competed in one of cycling’s Grand Tours.
Austin Smeenk, Para Athletics
Austin Smeenk was one of two team captains at the Paris 2023 World Para Athletics Championships, where he won two medals. Smeenk is determined and motivated to do his best, even on the worst of days, and is a huge motivator of his teammates, competitors and fellow athletes in the gym and on the field.
Raphaëlle Tousignant, Para Ice Hockey
Raphaëlle Tousignant broke the gender barrier on Canada’s para ice hockey team at the 2023 Para Ice Hockey World Championships. Diagnosed with bone cancer at age nine which resulted in her leg being amputated, Tousignant was back on the ice just six months after her surgery with the goal of playing for the national para ice hockey team. Although para ice hockey is an open discipline, where men and women can compete together, no woman had ever made the cut for Canada’s National Team before Tousignant did this year.