It’s not often the coach gets to step into the spotlight, but two of Ottawa’s best were given the opportunity Wednesday Night at the 61st Annual Ottawa Sport Awards. Long time club coach Hugh Conlin was recognized for his more than four decades of coaching success with the Brian Kilrea Lifetime Achievement in Coaching Award while Glenroy Gilbert was recognized as Ottawa’s Top Male Coach for 2013.
Conlin, who began coaching with the Lions in 1976 when the club was known by its original moniker, the East Ottawa Lions, was recognized for not only for his years of dedication, but the excellence with which he has trained numerous athletes over the years. Already an inductee in the Ottawa Lions Hall of Fame, Coach Conlin has led eight athletes to junior and senior national championships, 16 athletes to national teams, and himself as been a coach on 13 Canadian teams.
In recent years, the former North Dundas Secondary School teacher was a Lead Coach of Athletic Canada’s Paralympic Program, helping para-ambulatory athletes prepare for competition at the 2012 London Games. Most recently, Conlin resumed the tutelage of one his most successful athletes, Esther Akinsulie as she prepares for the 2014 outdoor season.
For Glenroy Gilbert, the 2013 season was one most coaches can only aspire to. As leader of Canada’s sprint relay program, he led a team back from the disappointment of Olympic disqualification to the jubilation of standing on the podium at this summer’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow. The bronze medal for Gilbert’s team was the first by a Canadian quartet since 1997 when Glenroy helped Canada to gold as an athlete.
However, his successes did not only come from teaching the passing of batons. Two of his prized pupils, Oluwasegun Makinde and Gavin Smellie both had outstanding seasons in 2013. Makinde, a double gold medalist at the Francophone Games, 4thplace finisher at the World University Games and alternate on Canada’s 4x100m relay team at the World Championships was recognized as Ottawa’s top track and field athlete in 2013. Meanwhile, Smellie was a semi-finalist in the 100m at the World Championships as well as the leadoff runner for the bronze medal winning relay team.
Other Lions athletes receiving individual hardware included Ottawa’s top Parasport athlete Curtis Thom, top Cross Country Runner Claire Smith and top road racer Leah Larocque. Also recognized were the national champion University of Ottawa relay teams of Michael Robertson, Oluwasegun Makinde, Devin Biocchi, Gabriel Tesfaye, and Toluwalope Makinde. The numerous national champion club relay teams and the OFSAA Champion Glebe Girls Cross Country team, which features numerous Lions athletes and is lead by club coach Kirk Dillabaugh, were also honoured.
The Lions would also like to extend congratulations to former hurdler Cody Sorensen, named Ottawa Top Bobsleigh Athlete. Sorensen heads to Sochi next week to compete in his first Olympic Games. As well, Speed for Sport Athlete Jonah Shaffer was recognized as top Water Skier, and former club intern Rachel Homan was named Top Curler as well as Ottawa’s Female Athlete of the Year.
Congratulations to all!