As Ottawa’s amateur sport community gathered last night on the campus of Algonquin College to celebrate the best of 2012 there was one group’s name that kept popping up – Ottawa Lions. The Lions were recognized on eight separate occasions whether it be for individual or team success as well as their contribution to sport in the city.
Three Lions members claimed individual awards on the evening, led by multiple Paralympic medalist Jason Dunkerley, who with guide Josh Karanja, took home the award for top parasport athlete in Ottawa. Dunkerley and Karanja had a spectacular 2012 season culminating in two medals at September’s Paralympic Games in London. The duo first captured bronze in the 1500m before coming back days later to claim silver and a Canadian record in the 5000m. Upon receiving their award, they were honoured with the longest round of applause of the evening, in recognition of not only their athletic accomplishments but also Jason’s recent commitment to donate one of his kidneys to his wife Colleen who has had progressive kidney disease since 2008, which has compromised both of her kidneys.
Taking home the award for top track and field athlete was the pride of Eganville, Melissa Bishop, who had a breakout season in 2012 that not only included breaking the club’s 800m record four times, but also becoming only the third Canadian woman ever to break the two minute barrier for 800m and securing herself a sport on her first Olympic team. The other individual award went to Yves Sikubwabo, who was recognized for his efforts in cross country running. Yves, who is currently attending the University of Guelph, had a great rookie campaign last fall as he helped his team capture the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship by finishing second overall. For his efforts, Sikubwabo was also named the OUA XC Rookie of the Year. Two weeks later at the Canadian Interuniversity Championships (CIS), Yves crossed the line in seventh to earn his first First Team All-Canadian distinction as well as helping Guelph capture its seventh straight team title.
The final individual accolade went to coach Glenroy Gilbert who was recognized as the top Ottawa sportsman of the 1990’s. Prior to his success as a coach, Gilbert was a mainstay on the famous Canadian men’s relay teams of the 90’s that won back to back world championships and Olympic gold in 1996. The Laurentian High School graduate also competed in the 1992 Olympic Games in the 10m and the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in bobsleigh. Gilbert had previously been awarded the Ottawa Athlete of the Year in 1996.
In addition to the individual awards, the Ottawa Sport Awards also recognizes those teams that have won provincial or national championships. Among the Lions athletes honoured were the quartet of Oluwasegun Makinde, Toluwalope Makinde, Devin Biocchi and Michael Robertson who captured CIS gold last season while representing the University of Ottawa. The four speedsters not only set a school record en route to winning the 4x400m relay title, but also set a new national standard in the 4x200m event, winning in a time of 1:25.65. The junior men’s cross country team of Mickey Day, Alex Behre, Alex Wilkie, and Nicholas Favero were also honoured for capturing the provincial championship last November. It was the second straight provincial title for the junior men’s team.
Lastly, the Ottawa Lions were awarded a special recognition award for the four provincial and and one national championships the club captured in 2012. They included the Canadian junior team title, as well as overall Athletics Ontario crown. In addition, the two national relay champion teams, youth girls and midget boys 4x100m, and seven provincial were also recognized.