Dunkerley, Cassidy, and Kaba nominated for national awards

When Athletics Canada announced its nominees for their list of annual awards yesterday, a record three Ottawa Lions members were recognized for very successful 2012 seasons. Jason Dunkerley, with guide Josh Karanja, and Josh Cassidy were both nominated for Outstanding Para-Athlete of the Year Award in the ambulatory and wheelchair categories respectively. Sekou Kaba, who received his Canadian citizenship earlier this year, was nominated for the Dr. Fred Tees Memorial Trophy as the most outstanding athlete in a Canadian university.
 
Dunkerley, who teamed up with Karanja in 2011, had arguably his best season ever on the track culminating in two medals at the Paralympics in London. On the  road to bronze in the T11 1500m and silver in the 5000m, Dunkerley produced lifetime bests in both events including a Canadian record 4:07.56 in the 15000m. In addition to Dunkerley’s international success, he and Karanja also captured gold at the Canadian Championships in both events. Dunkerley and Karanja were nominated along with sprinters Braedon Dolfo and Virginia McLachlan.
 
For Josh Cassidy, 2012 was a very busy year as the wheelchair racer contested events from 800m all the way up to the marathon. It was the marathon where Cassidy great deal of notoriety early this year as he captured the historic Boston Marathon in a world record time of 1:18:25. From there Cassidy would go on to claim a trio of gold medals at the national championships in Calgary, sweeping the T54 800m, 1500m and 5000m events. In London, Cassidy’s best result would come in the 800m with a 5th place finish. He also finished 10th and 12th in the 1500m and marathon respectively. Josh will be in tough as he is nominated alongside Paralympic champion and world record holder Michelle Stillwell and triple medalist from London, Brent Lakatos.
 
For hurdler Sekou Kaba, 2012 proved to be a breakout season. It all began with the indoor season as Kaba asserted himself as one of Canada’s top sprint hurdlers by winning the CIS Championships in March with a nation leading time of 7.92 seconds. Sekou would continue to improve outdoors as he would drop more 0.2 seconds from his personal best, finishing second at the Canadian Championships with a time of 13.79 seconds. Kaba’s success at nationals would take him to Guanajuato, Mexico for his first national team appointment and he would not disappoint, placing fifth in a strong field. Sekou faces some stiff competition for the Dr. Fred Tees Memorial Trophy as he goes up against Olympic semi-finalist Sarah Wells of Toronto and national junior record setting race walker, Ben Thorne of Vancouver.
 
Athletics Canada will announce the awards winners next Wednesday, December 19th and the recipients will be honoured at the 2013 Canadian Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick.