Since the early years of the Ottawa Lions, there isn’t much Joe Burke has not undertaken. He’s been the throws coach, the head coach and until his recent retirement Burke served as the manager of our very successful youth program for nearly a decade.
Burke’s youth program could be the envy of all other clubs across Canada where he employed the principles of the Run, Jump, Throw program to teach a new generation all the great things about our sport. The program became so popular among 6 to 12 year olds in Ottawa that it saw an incredible 1000 plus participants in Joe’s final year of service.
In recognition of this exemplary dedication to the growth and development of the club, Burke was inducted into the Hall of Fame under the builder’s category. In addition as a builder, Burke was the initial Hall of Fame inductee back in 2001 when he was recognized for his coaching excellence and service.
For Burke, the satisfaction always came from the joy he saw and the excitement he received from seeing kids improve. “If I’ve lots to the Ottawa Lions kids, they’ve given so much more to me,” said Burke during his acceptance speech.
In addition to the Hall of Fame induction, awards were presented to outstanding athletes across all age categories as well as for athletes with a disability, road and cross country running.
The Gilbert Awards, which honour our most outstanding male and female athletes on the track and in the field, were presented to a number of familiar faces and one new one.
Among the men, it was a repeat of 2015 where Sekou Kaba took home top track honours following a silver medal in the 110m hurdles at the Francophone Games and top 8 placing at the World University Games. Nedow won his fifth straight Canadian shot put title en route to a 16th place finish at the World Championships.
On the women’s side, the recently wed Melissa Bishop-Nriagu took home top billing on the track. Bishop-Nriagu bettered her own Canadian 800m record with a 1:57.01 clocking in Monaco this year before finishing 5th at the World Championships. This was her sixth straight award.
Divya Biswal captured her first every Lions award, as she was named most outstanding female field athlete after breaking a 15 year old record in the triple jump and moving to number three on the long jump list. Biswal victory also ended Sultana Frizell’s 12 year reign, the longest in club history.
World Paralympic silver medalist Jason Dunkerley was recognized with the Sam Estwick award as the most outstanding athlete with a disability. Dunkerley, who announced his retirement from competitive running at last year’s awards banquet returned to the track in June to make another run at worlds. With new guide Jeremie Venne, the pair captured a silver medal in London. This was Dunkerley’s 11th victory.
As well, Melinda Tebrake was awarded the Sean Cole Memorial award which recognizes a volunteer whose efforts go far beyond the boundaries of expectation and service. Tebrake is an invaluable coach in the youth program who is always willing to go the extra mile and pitch in when needed. As well, she was a valuable volunteer at this past summer’s Canadian Track and Field Championship.
Other winners on the evening include:
Most Outstanding Athlete: uOttawa X-Country / Track & Field
· Devyani Biswal & Stephen Evans
Most Outstanding Athlete: Carleton University X-Country / Track & Field
· Telvin Tavernier & Amelia Brohman
Most Outstanding Junior Athlete
· Male: Tom Nedow
· Female: Keira Christie-Galloway
Most Outstanding Youth Athlete
· Male: Brandon Ovington
· Female: Sharelle Samuel
Most Outstanding Midget Athlete
· Male: Joe Fast
· Female: Doyin Ogunremi
Most Outstanding Bantam Athlete
· Peter Bertels
Most Outstanding XC
· Male – Mike Mather
· Female – Shona McCulloch
Most Outstanding Masters Athlete
· Wendy Alexis
Most Outstanding Athlete: Road Racer
· Tommy Des Brisay